Have you ever been so involved in something that you literally forgot all else that was going on around you?
A really simple example of that happened to me this morning. I was getting ready for work, and I walked by a Star Wars graphic novel I’m currently reading. I opened up to the last page I was on and started reading. The next thing I knew, ten minutes had gone by, and I flew downstairs to get my oldest ready for the bus.
This happens to me all the time at work too. For instance, yesterday I was working out the costs and design for a workshop series we hope to run next year. There were a number of key steps, and I was deeply engrossed in reflecting on what the consultant had put forward as a plan for the workshop. Before I knew it, I had to leave so I wasn’t late to pick up my daughter from her after school.
While part of this could entirely be my strange combination of focus and distractibility, there is also something really enticing about tasks that draw us in. Learning, leading, and life should be exactly like this (of course, we never want to be late to pick anyone up, if we can avoid it).
We have to welcome the feeling of getting caught up while also remembering to “bring ourselves back” from time-to-time. While a deep focus is necessary for us to do our best work, we also have to be able to be roused form that focus. Sometimes items come up that are even more important to those we serve than whatever we are currently wrapped up in. This balance between intense concentration and frequent distraction is an uneven one for most of us, and it depends just as much on the task at hand as it does our current mood. Still, by recognizing our own ability to get sidetracked (or to dig in too deep), we can make it easier in the future to figure out where our focus truly needs to lie.