“There are no enlightened beings. There are only more or less enlightened moments.” -Dan Millman

Getting better at getting better is what Rise With Drew is all about.  

Monday through Thursday, we explore ideas from authors, thought leaders, and exemplary organizations. On Friday, I share something about myself or what we at PCI are doing in our quest to earn a spot on Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.  

1: The research shows “a wandering mind is an unhappy mind,” Wharton professor Matt Killingsworth tells us in his TED talk .

Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon originated the term the “attention economy.” He wrote, “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention,” suggesting multitasking is a myth. We swim in a wealth of information. Our challenge? Our poverty of attention.

Since taking philosopher Brian Johnson’s Heroic Coach program two years ago, I’ve been working on “paying attention to my attention.”  

We have the ability to spotlight our attention, Brian tells us. We can focus our minds on what we want, when we want, for as long as we want. And one of the greatest gifts we can give to the people we love and care about is our full attention.  

Brian’s “soul force” equation is: Time x Energy x Focus x What’s Important Now raised to the power of consistency. At the center of this blueprint is our ability to focus. Good things happen when we consistently focus our time and energy on What’s Important Now.

When we try to do everything, we get nothing done. So, it starts with having a small number of ambitious outcomes. To win the war for our attention, it is critical to focus on a few motivating goals. Which allows us to say YES to what’s important and NO to the array of distractions that compete for our attention.

We think our challenge is discipline, Steven Covey writes. Actually, when we take the time to think through what is truly important, we are naturally motivated to focus and stay the course.   

“Targeted thinking,” Brian calls it. “What’s important now, boss?” Then, we do that!  

It’s about staying in the moment. We focus our attention. We stay with it. Moment to moment to moment. Again and again. That’s how we spiral upwards.

2: One practice that works? Mindfulness. We make it a regular practice to simply pay attention to our breathing. When our attention wanders, as it always does, we simply, patiently, and persistently return our focus back to our breath. The “focus gym,” Brian calls it.

“Imagine your doctor told you they had a magic pill that would make us feel much better. It would improve our concentration and sleep, improve our relationships, and generally make us feel happier and more content throughout the inevitable stresses and strains of life. There would be no negative side effects and it would be absolutely free. Would you take it?” Eddie Pease asks.  

This solution exists, but it’s not a pill. It’s called mindfulness.

3: What doesn’t work? Multitasking. The data is clear: When we single-task, we perform better on any activity with the slightest bit of complexity.  Author Cal Newport calls it “deep work”—our ability to sustain focus on what’s important. There are two ways to live our lives, he tells us. We can take breaks from distraction to focus on what’s important. Or, we can make our “default setting” deep work and take periodic breaks to allow for distraction.

There are four aspects to deep living. The first is deep work—which applies not only to our personal but also our professional lives. We thrive when we set aside distraction-free time with family and friends. Next, we train ourselves to be tranquil. We create time to allow our minds to wander. We embrace rather than flee from boredom. Third, we quit social media. We seek deep connections rather than fill our minutes and hours with shallow interaction.

And finally, we commit to using technology wisely, not compulsively. Our phones constantly are eroding our attention. Research shows just having our phones in sight diminishes the quality of interaction. We intentionally put our phones away. We turn off notifications. We “drain the shallows.”

More next week!


Reflection: What’s my default setting? Do I feel distracted? Or am I happy with my ability to focus?

Action: Experiment with single-tasking or mindfulness. Today.

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