Distracted by Shiny Objects

This week I am so distracted by shiny objects you’d think I was a raccoon.

Maybe it’s the epidemic of overwhelm at work or perhaps the amount of data – COVID-19 and otherwise – that I’m trying to process each day. However,  it just seems I’m more and more susceptible to the distractions that are the result of being continuously plugged in.

Too often I find myself chasing the shiny objects to the point where I may be at risk for losing sight of what’s really important. Or, even when I’m disciplined enough to ignore some of the distractions, it still cuts into the amount of time I dedicate to work that requires more intense thinking and a single focus. I also find there’s a limit to the amount of attention I can focus at a deep level each day. As a result I’m worried that I’m not directing enough energy to the really big questions that have to do with change – both personal and work-related – in a post-COVID world.

My guess is that I’m not alone in thinking there are significant issues that need to be addressed and questions we need to answer. For sure, some distraction is good but I for one am going to have to ignore all things shiny and do more to ramp up my focus on more important matters.

In many ways, it is the perfect time to do more to envision how businesses, community organizations and government can work together to deal with this onslaught of information about our health, the reality of technology, and the need for change. Part of that will be figuring out how we can do more to move from tradition to innovation, from hierarchical leadership to one that is more shared or distributed, from short term reaction to long term vision, from a low risk mentality to one of calculated risk, and from a strictly local perspective to a more global outlook.

Integral to that will be figuring out how to get over our need for order and structure and get better at living with the reality of chaos. And of course none of that is going to happen without first ensuring we have leaders who have the ability to drive change that results in positive impact.

That being said, it isn’t a choice for the faint of heart if we really are serious about addressing the issues, vulnerabilities and weak links in our communities that the pandemic has revealed.

Additionally, we need to address a decline in civic engagement, the need for protecting our environment, the reduced capacity of the community sector, how we deal with food insecurity, support small businesses etc. etc.

The challenge is that it will require a lot of courage. Why courage? Perhaps because there really are only two options and one of them is really hard.

The first and most common choice is simply to maintain the status quo. I’m seeing a lot of that. After all, it used to be a pretty safe strategy. Many businesses, government departments, and community organizations are so intimidated and overwhelmed by the potential options and changes that need to be made to ensure they are positioned for the future that they are simply staying put and hunkering down to protect their turf. While it may not take a lot of courage, that’s not to say they aren’t working hard.  After all, chasing all those shiny objects takes a lot of energy.

The second choice? The other option is to be brave about accepting there is a need for wide-scale, messy, systemic change.

Easy enough to say, but how do we make that happen? Maybe it’s not as difficult as it first appears. It begins with having courageous conversations, a commitment to investing in building relationships, and making collaboration and partnerships a priority because you can’t do it alone. 

None of the change we want to see in our businesses, communities, or governments is going to happen without first having trusted relationships with diverse individuals and their respective networks. That can begin with something as simple as reaching out to one individual or organization for a virtual cup of coffee and a conversation.


Posted on 05-21-20

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