Archives For August 2013

How We Fight Distraction

August 27, 2013 — 2 Comments

We live in an age of disruption.

Everyone wants your attention; family, work, church, your iPad, a book, marketers, television, and your local service group.  Some of these distractions are noble and do require attention. Some of these can wait.

Technology and life’s demands want to suck us dry. A friend remarked to me the other day that he wish our world went dark with technology like the television show, Revolution. While that is drastic, I empathize with his sentiment as does my wife when she sees me looking down at my phone when I am at home.

My job is focused on leveraging social media in business and everyday there is something new to pursue; the hot new app, the new social media network, or a digital conference where you fear missing out of the ‘new thing’ in technology. There is always a new technology to learn or a place where people want to share information. It is a never-ending cycle that has only been accelerated in today’s culture.

When I am bombarded by too many meetings, demands, and other things, I am reminded of Indiana Jones. In a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana is trying to rescue Marion and the Ark. He is being chased by Nazi agents and Cairo henchmen. After he briefly escapes, he is then confronted by a master swordsman who is prepared to end his quest. Indy has to act fast. Watch and see.

Admit it, you laughed.

While I would like to take care of our distractions the Indiana Jones way, there is better wisdom I am learning. I struggle with disruption like any average person. C.S. Lewis said that “God whispers in our pleasures” and I feel most alive and joyful when I am focused on doing one single thing. God didn’t make me a multi-tasker thankfully and when distracted he causes me ask this question,

What what is most important and what do I do about it? 

There are three pieces of wisdom that I have learned over time. Whenever I am overwhelmed with distraction, God seems to point me back to this wisdom.

1. Wisdom of my Mother:

“Slow down: One thing at a time.”

No one likes listening to their mother but even at 34, I humbly acknowledge thought that she is right.

2. Wisdom of Scripture:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. – Proverbs 16:3

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 5:18

3. Wisdom of Prayer:

Jesus taught us out to pray and in prayer he helps us focus on him.

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,

The power, and the glory,

For ever and ever.

Amen.

So let’s fix our eyes on him, pray, and take it one thing at a time. 

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The bar/confrontation scene from Good Will Hunting (1998) is one of my favorite movie scenes because it reveals something uncomfortable about us; we are all posers. In the scene, Will Hunting played by Matt Damon and his friends, who are from a poor part of South Boston decide one night to visit a Harvard bar. After Will’s friend played by Ben Affleck attempts to pick up some girls, he is confronted by an arrogant MIchael Bolton look-a-like Harvard graduate student. The graduate student begins to taunt Affleck’s character in front of the ladies by showing off his supposed knowledge of early American History. The scene is full of class-tension but underneath there is something deeper; a man’s authenticity is being challenged.

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Watch the scene to understand.

“But at least I won’t be unoriginal”

Our education system creates unoriginal posers who are incentivized to memorize facts and other people’s ideas. This happens to people of all ages, not just in school. I work in an office that tempts to suck the creative spirit out of me. There are days when I feel the desire to go to graduate school but then I realize that another degree or a graduate degree will only serve as an entry point to feeding my pride. As I evaluate my heart, I catch myself yearning just to see extra initials after my name on a business card or a resume. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing inherently wrong with a degree or a graduate degree.

My point is this.

You are only as good as what you do with your education. 

We are all posers unless we use our education for the better and for each person that will be something personal and hopefully unique. The viewer learns later in the film that Will Hunting was a poser for not using the gift that God had given him. We are left at the end of the movie not knowing what he does with his education but that is probably the beauty of the story to embrace.

I apply this scene to my life because God has given me many dreams that I can sit on or pursue. I am reminded of C.S. Lewis’ words,

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

God gives us experience and the passions to act. By faith, he calls us to trust him in this journey. This is life’s great education. God gives us choice on what to do with this education and I am learning that I need to take seriously what he has given to me. I am awaken.

I am learning that it is not my degree or credentials that matter. He loves me no matter what and it is what I do with my education that matters. That is what makes the world stand up and clap.

I need to write.

I need to take the risks.

I need to engage fearlessly with my wife and my kids.

I need to leave the excuses behind and go forward with this education.

I may not have multiple PhDs. But my hope in life is that at least I won’t be unoriginal.

What are you learning about your education? What do you want to do with it?

Office life is filled with the mundane. Yet, tt can also be a place of learning—and many of its lessons, hilarious! As a businessperson and a movie fan, I have compiled my favorite movie scenes that capture the sometime absurdity of business on film.

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Here are my top ten office movie scenes in no particular order.

Office Space (1999): “Lumbergh’s TPS Reports” Scene

Office Space celebrates the mundane quality of working life. It doesn’t matter what a TPS Report is except that it represents meaningless everyday work.

American Psycho (2000): “Business Card Competition” Scene

There was a day when business cards were ubiquitous and in the 80s they all looked the same. This captures that era so well.

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) “Coffee’s for Closers” Scene

I don’t believe there is a salesperson in this world who doesn’t know this line. To me this scene made Alec Baldwin a comedic legend. Here Baldwin gives us a new meaning to learning our ABCs: Always Be Closing.

Moneyball (2011) “Identifying the Problem with the Baseball Scouts” Scene

There will never be enough money in business to solve all of our problems. What is needed is the dedication necessary to identify real problems and the creativity required to solve them.

Tommy Boy (1995) “Killing the Sale” Scene

Every salesperson can recall a time when they failed to close a sale. This scene is one of those times, even as Tommy Boy is describing to his friend how he “sucks as a salesman.” Nevertheless, his friend comes to see what works naturally for Tommy instead of trying to be something he is not. This scene always provides a great laugh to spice up a sales team meeting.

Apollo 13 (1995) “Failure is Not An Option” Scene

Under difficult circumstances, we need a leader to push us to a place where we are driven to find the best solutions. Someone that drives us to new levels of creativity that we may never have experienced before.

Dr. Strangelove (1964) “No Fighting in the War Room” Scene

Even the top leaders have their worse moments under pressure.

The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) “You know, For Kids” Hula Hoop Scene

I wish every CEO would demonstrate their new products like Tim Robbins does with a hula hoop.

The Big Kahuna (1999) “Character and Honesty” Scene

In business, there are always temptations to cut ethical corners. This scene cuts to the core of that struggle. I think it is one of Danny DeVito’s finest performances.

Up in the Air (2009) “How Much Did They Pay You To Give Up On Your Dreams” Scene

Life is short. This scene shows how important it is–whether your calling is in business or elsewhere–to always go after your dreams.

Worst Sales Pitches Ever: This is a fun mashup of the worst sales pitches ever from Garden State to Tommy Boy. Enjoy!

Honorable Mention: Gordon Gekko’s “Greed is Good” line from Wall Street, Jerry Maguire’s last day at work, “The Facebook” being launched in The Social Network and Ben Affleck’s Boiler Room talk.

What are you favorite business movie scenes. What made you laugh? What did you learn?