By Jeannette Webb
We’ve all heard the gruesome details. The train engineer that brought death to hundreds by being distracted while texting. The woman talking on the phone slamming into a carload of kids. The multitasking career woman who forgot her baby strapped in the backseat and left it to die in the heat of the summer day. Distractions can literally be deadly. Distractions can also kill other things. Here are some examples I have seen in just the last few months.
- Old friends who rarely see each other gather for a reunion – It has taken a great deal of effort to rearrange job schedules and family responsibilities, to say nothing of the expense of airline tickets. After a few hours together, the conversation drags. The culprit? Several members have checked out of the here-and-now and have heads bent over iPhones responding to messages.
- A group of women at a retreat – During lunch break, traditionally a time to debrief, laugh, and catch up on girl talk, an interesting thing takes place. I look up and see 20 women with their phone in one ear and a finger in the other all talking individually to the world they paid a lot of money to escape. Instead of being a time to nurture other women, make new friends, or encourage someone who is struggling, folks are routinely violating what a retreat should be all about.
- College co-eds walking across campus with earphones in, eyes down, never connecting to the vibrant cross section of humanity that is sharing the sidewalk with them.
- The homeschool mom who has nobly set aside a career to be with her kids, and yet, anyone paying attention can tell that mom’s mind is somewhere else. Her family bubbles in and around her but her mind is busy planning some outside event or she has retreated into herself. Don’t kid yourself. You can be with your kids 24/7 and still miss their hearts because you weren’t really present. I know. I’ve done it many times.
Distractions Kill Productivity
- Business owners at an important, expensive business round-table discussion. I look around and several are surfing Facebook and responding to messages rather than giving their undivided attention to the speaker.
- Students who get lost playing games, surfing internet, or texting instead of getting their work done in a timely fashion. It takes forever to get classwork done and leaves little time for developing important skill sets. Research is now proving that people who are constantly plugged in (computer, iPod, Facebook, iPhone, TV, etc.) never have time to process experience and therefore do not learn from it.
Distractions Can Ruin Experiences
- Symphony goers are still listening to the dying strains of a well-executed concerto. The musical magic still vibrates in the air. Suddenly, blue screens and beeps fill the section as people frantically flip open phones to try to catch up on all the things they think they’ve missed during the hour-long performance.
Summer invites a change of pace and the opportunity to take a fresh look at how we spend our time and how we allow our children to spend theirs. The ability to truly focus, to stay on task until the job is done is becoming a rare commodity in today’s world. However, if you want to help your children be successful, it is one of the most important things you can cultivate in their lives (and in your own).
Remember, distractions can be deadly. They rob us of:
- processing and thereby receiving meaning in our lives
Wherever you are, BE FULLY THERE!
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