The trivial, the mundane, the distractions, the shiny object, the squirrel flitting from branch to branch. They are almost like a drug, reaching out to you, interrupting, engrossing, diverting, interfering, confusing and preoccupying your thinking and focus.
These distractions keep you from your real mission. Prevent you from concentrating on and accomplishing the truly important things in your life.
Often times, during difficult periods in your life, as you confront challenges, trials and tribulations, distractions offer a false sense of peace, a respite from the hard reality you are facing. I believe this is your mind’s way of helping you cope and survive during these periods.
In my case, during a set of events culminating in a disastrous finale, a number of things kept me busy and preoccupied. Some real examples:
- Incessant “refreshing” of my company’s stock quote to see how we were doing
- Preoccupation with an idea for a book on the life of Stevie Ray Vaughan
- Researching Single Malt Scotch
- Bidding on vintage guitars
- Shopping on Ebay…
Sound trivial? Minor? Of course…
Who knows what I could have done to alter my fate if I had only focused on the real issues and problems and not allowed the minor things to get in the way.
How can you tell if you are Majoring in Minor Things?
Here is what to look out for.
The Warning Signs
- Too many hobbies, and not particularly good at any of them
- Avoiding meetings — just not showing up
- Subscribing to dozens of magazines, mailing lists, blogs, newsletters
- Addiction a maniacal working on an overflowing mailbox
- Climbing down an Internet rabbit hole, expanding searches, going deeper and deeper as the path twists and turns
- Having dozens of pages open in your browser
- An insanely long To Do list full of trivial items — and a false sense of accomplishments from completing many each day
- Constant Procrastination
- A cluttered desk with half started tasks and assignments
- A series of home projects in progress, gathering dust
- Excessive TV watching, especially news programs
You cannot be successful in the long run if you are 10 miles wide and an inch deep. There are a handful of things that are important enough to account for the greatest impact. This is what Jim Rohn mean by Majoring in Minor Things, his own 80/20 rule.
Steve Jobs once said “Focusing is about saying No”, his inimitable way of underscoring how important it was to avoid distractions. It’s important to hitch your vision and strategy to the truly impactful things and execute those to the best of your ability.
Personally, I failed by trying to do it all as well as getting tied up by distractions and trivialities. Instead of becoming great at a few important things, I became quite mediocre and even poor at many trivial ones.
Obviously, you shouldn’t do that…
Let me know what you think.