In 1925 President Calvin Coolidge famously said that “The business of America is business.” Almost a full century later, those words are still quoted often enough for it to be recognized. Since the proliferation of the internet to most households, the pace of information exchange and communication has continued to increase almost exponentially. The problem is that with so much information flying around, very few people are taking the time to communicate or do anything to the best of their ability. It seems that with technology as our guide “The business of America is BUSYness.” There is no soap box under my feet. I am not chastising, judging or pointing a ridiculing finger. This post is as much for me as it is for anyone who reads it.
Distraction is a way of life in the country at the moment. Not only is completing tasks without getting distracted difficult but the fear of missing out (FOMO) seems to be an almost pervasive issue. People have divided their focus between too many activities and are simultaneously getting distracted from them. It’s a recipe for disaster no matter how you slice it. No one can be everywhere for everyone every time. Distraction always comes with a price tag and it is not you who is profiting. The losses are felt by you, your family, your friends, your colleagues and classmates. The people who are actually in your life are the ones who are missing out on a key component of their experience and that is you. All of you, not the partial you that has a technological device in hand “JUST IN CASE!” The cyborg version of you that cannot let go of the phone, tablet or computer has a distinct weakness, it is never fully present.
So many of our systems are built largely upon attendance but that model is at best flawed and at worst catastrophically broken. Absence, attendance, presence, engagement and immersion are very different levels of an inverted pyramid of human involvement. While attendance is a nice start, it is just barely above absence and meets only minimum requirements. Showing up is just not enough. To really take full advantage of this life that you have been gifted, you must strategically move up the pyramid with the things that you have decided really matter. And there lies the problem we must DECIDE. Decide comes from the Latin meaning to cut off. We must cut off the things that don’t matter in order to preserve the things that do. Our focus needs to be cut down to that which we value most.
The only person who can win this focus battle for you is you. Anyone can suggest, plead or punish you to do it but you do not have to comply until you choose. In the end there are so many companies and individuals who want your focus. It is your job to divvy it out as you see fit or scatter it without a care. Where you put your focus determines your life. If you decide to immerse yourself in Facebook, that is your choice and far be it from me to judge. As long as it is a decision and not a resignation to the world of distraction. Choose what you want for yourself before others choose for you.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. -Theodore Roosevelt