All That Glitters

Beware shiny objects.

I have a friend who's easily distracted.

In fact, two friends like that. While it means they're engaging to speak with since they know a little about a lot, when I work with them I have to guide them continuously lest they get infatuated with anything other than our goal. Their distractions can derail our work.

Sometimes when I put my foot down to keep us on task they'll say, “Look, a shiny object!” as they start to wander away.

They're aware of their own tendencies.

Now all of us get sidetracked, it's part of the human condition. I've mentioned this before because as one with a Vata nature I see the world as one continuous flow and can easily get pulled in a number of directions. That's why humans were also blessed with other qualities including discipline and self-awareness.

The question here is, are we using these faculties?


In today's world we're immersed in data, noise, information, whatever you want to call it. We can't find a minute's peace it seems to concentrate. Think of the shepherds of the ancient world guarding their flocks, guiding them to water and watching for wolves. How blessed it must have been to do one thing only.

Chop wood, carry water.

Our environment today doesn't support this single-mindedness but I suspect even shepherds let their minds wander a bit.

Imagination and blue-skying are a wonderful and unique part of being human allowing us to dream and envision things not yet realized. At the same time though we need to manage our productivity, to put first things first and to make things happen.

This duality – the ability to daydream and then get down to business – separates the truly creative from the rest of us. I'm convinced, after 30 years in the workplace, that few of us manage this continuum well.

Some people, like the writer, simply bang away at problems and challenges ingrained with the notion of just working a little bit harder. It took 20 years and the dissolution of my first marriage to understand this relentless focus on work and it's attendent needs was sacrificing other parts of a whole life.

Just so, I've worked with some imaginative people who couldn't get squat done. So preoccupied with what “might be” they never got around to what is, and what needs to be addressed today.

The message then is simple and two-fold.

First, should you encounter those who can move fluidly back and forth between vision and action, hire those people immediately and pay them what they want: they will move your organization forward.

Second, if you find yourself on one end of this spectrum or the other, consider moving toward the other direction. It will take work, focus and commitment, but the rewards inherent in this complex thinking are well worth it.

All that glitters is not all gold, but some is.

Dream, focus, work, repeat.



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