Maybe, just maybe, what you’ve been calling distraction is really creativity bursting at the seams.  Now don’t get me wrong.  There are many, many times when I’ve started something and found myself drifting into something completely different that seemed very interesting to me. One of my coaches, Suzanne Evans, calls it the "Bright Shiny Object Syndrome." I know that one!

At the same time, there are specific moments when you will be distracted and the moments are pure creativity.  For now, we are in the world of education so see if what I’m suggesting fits for you.

See if you can relate?

There are so many advantages of following what is interesting to you.  Right?  Following those bright shiny objects are what had me moving into several careers based on what was so fascinating about them.  For example, working in my father’s restaurant taught me  how to cook; spending time with  two of my ex-partners and friends who were trained in architecture taught me structural design;  Advertising and making television commercials for Columbia Pictures allowed me to start my own company called McCall/Coppola @ Filmfair along with a full career in music. But most importantly, it has grown my insatiable desire to learn.

Was I distracted or so freakin’ interested?

I work with many talented business owners as well as people living with ADD/ADHD.  And did you know that so many businesses spring from the question, "What if . . .?" "What if I left my corporate job as a graphic designer and started my own company?"

Distraction and the inability to pay attention are real.  What is it that triggers these distractions that makes it so difficult to focus?

From my personal experience and studies with David Giwerc, here are a few:

  • Boredom
  • Understimulation
  • Overstimulation
  • Physical Breakdowns such as lack of sleep, hunger, thirst, etc.
  • Disinterest
  • And anything related to fear. (Anxiety, worry, chaos, disorganization, time management. Fill in the blanks for you.)

OK.  Has this ever happened to you? Let’s say you’re in conversation with someone.  They start talking about something you realize you have no idea what they are saying and nor do you care.  The next thing you know, you’re thinking about something completely different.  Maybe something that the person is speaking triggered to find a solution to the problem their having or you see another angle or perspective that the person can’t see at all. You’re ADDing Perspective. I call this "creativity bursting at the seams", not distraction. You think to yourself, "why would anyone want to pay attention to something so boring?" Your mind starts looking for something interesting to concentrate on.  Guess what? This called creativity.  Inventing something out of nothing.  Doesn’t it make complete sense?    I’ve given you an explanation to the situation.  Still and above all, you must be responsible and not use this as an excuse.  There is a way to help you pay attention and understand during these times as well as help the others stay on track.

Here’s an exercise for you to help you pay attention during certain times.

Consider carrying a blank index card.  When you sit to have a conversation with a friend or a client, take out the index card.  Here’s what you will say to them:

1. "I hope you don’t mind, I want to really listen to you and sometimes you might say something that gives me an idea.  I may write down a word so I can come back to it to discuss the idea with you."

2. If you get lost in the conversation just say to them, "I’m sorry.  Would you mind repeating that?" Another good one is "Could you give me the context of what you’re saying. I really want to make sure I understand what you’re saying."

You never want to blame them.  This is all about you.  By the way, it also keeps them focused.

I invite you to try out this technique the next time you have a talk with someone and see yourself if you start drifting away.  After you notice. Bring yourself back and refocus.  Keep practicing.  In time, changes can occur.

If you have any questions or to let me know how you made out, please send your replies to frank@addcoachinggroup.com.  You would be helping me as well as other people out there.