Learning to cope in a distracting world.

Simon Sinek is an amazing leader, thinker, author in today’s world.  He has written an article (actually an excerpt from his book Leaders Eat Last) “How Baby Boomers Screwed Their Kids – and Created Millennial Impatience”.  Well worth the read here bit.ly/1942pBn .

I admit that I was a little disappointed on first read that he would be willing to label entire groups of people as he does with Boomers, Gen-X, and Gen-Y.  After all, labeling in groups is the foundation of prejudice. But then, as a fellow writer, I realized that this is a convention we writers use to help our audience identify with the problem and solution we are trying to present.  So all is forgiven keeping in mind we are talking issues, not people, here.

I believe Sinek correctly identifies the fault in our thinking that we can “do our work, check our phones, write a paragraph, send a text, write another paragraph, send another text” without doing damage to our ability to concentrate. He states, “Generation Y thinks that, because they have grown up with all these technologies, they are better at multitasking.”  Sinek submits that what they are better at is being distracted.

He suggests that at least a portion of the spike in diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD – up 66% between 2000 and 2010) may actually be an addiction to distraction. “An entire generation has become addicted to the dopamine-producing effects of text messages, e-mails and other online activities.”

The antidote to the Sinek syndrome is focus. Not necessarily for everyday, but whenever you are working on a goal or a major project, set the distractors away where they are out of sight or sound, and feel the refreshing invigoration of actually being able to concentrate.  And note that the project gets done in much less time, leaving you time to check your e-mails and messages.  That dopamine hit can actually become a reward for your better behavior.

And here is how this all relates to family … when you hear a voice, set the distractors aside and pay attention.  I don’t care who is waiting for your response, the most important person in the world is right in front of you. If that is the way you treat them, that is the way that they will treat you. At dinner, you will have a conversation, not a game.


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