Leaders have a lot of “noise” in their lives. Important goals ringing in their head. The cautions and recommendations of “industry experts” buzzing in their ears. The on-going ping of a to-do list that expands by the moment. The multiple melodies of staff member needs, concerns, and desires… Sometimes it gets so loud that it is hard to hear yourself think, much less respond effectively to the symphony of sounds before you.
When that happens, it is time to turn down to turn down the volume. How? Focus, my friends, focus. When you try to hear too many different tunes at the same time, the result is nothing but noise. Pick one, and turn the rest down. Easier said than done? Maybe. But it is also the best way to give each the attention it deserves. Notice, I did not say turn the other sounds off. There may be notes that can add depth and understanding to the item of your focus. Just dial them back enough that they do not pull your attention away from the task at hand.
Turning down the volume on legitimate “distractions” only works if you allocate another time to address the matter. Trust me, giving your full attention to something for a set period of time accomplishes far more than if you give it a slice of your attention for a much longer timer period. That kind of slow droning buzz can suck the energy right out of you. When you schedule a time to give your full attention to something then, when the “you need to listen to this” chorus starts playing in your head, you can simply respond by telling yourself, “I am going to work on that Tuesday from 9:00 – 11:00, and then turn the volume down on that issue. It might sounds a bit simplistic, but try it, it really works.
The amazing thing is, you can hear everything more clearly when you don’t try to listen it all at once. Not only that, even if it might not seem like it at the time, focusing on one sound at a time is actually more efficient, and ultimately more effective. For most leaders, it is not realistic to think that the number of “sounds” vying for your attention is going to decrease any time soon. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a solution to all the noise in your head. You simply have to learn how to turn down the volume.