In this Video Blog Clarence shares a key component of increasing your productivity – Eliminate the distractions.
Your squirrels are running your life. Who are they? What are they? Have you named your squirrels? Have you tamed your squirrels? You see, when we’re talking about your productivity and when we’re talking about really moving forward in the things that you want to accomplish in your life, whether it’s in your business or in your personal life, we often get distracted.
You know, I think about the shiny object. If somebody presents a shiny object to you and it’s attractive to you you might lose your focus on what you’re doing and move over to try and grab that shiny object. It’s like going fishing. I don’t know how many of you fish. I used to fish as a kid and one thing I always made sure I had was a shiny lure because I know that the fish would see the light reflecting off the lure and be attracted to it and that’s where my hook was, as well. That was a great way to catch fish.
You and I are very similar. Now, we’re a little more sophisticated than fish, obviously, but we do have a reptilian part of our brain and that reptilian brain is what keeps us alive. It’s a survival mode. It’s about fight or flight for survival, food. It’s the very basis of our existence. Just like the fish, and other animals, we have this reptilian brain that really is able to be distracted. We also have higher orders of faculty, obviously. We have the limbic brain which is about our emotions and our behavior. Then we have the neocortex which is even a higher level of thinking that allows us to create so much stuff that we create and build the cultures that we have.
At the very bottom, at the very root of it is this reptilian brain. It doesn’t go away. Those other things are stacked on top of it, as well. Let me give you another example. The fish might be too far away for you to understand or relate to. I don’t know how many golfers are listening right now, but, if you’ve ever golfed and just watch some of the professional golfers. The professional golfers would get over a ball and get ready to swing their club to hit the ball, and it only takes just a little noise to distract them. It could be a camera going off in the distance or someone coughing or someone sneezing. If they’re in the middle of a swing, that little bit of a distraction is enough to really throw their swing off, throw the whole game off for them. They’ll get upset and say, “Wow,” and that’s why people are very quiet before a golfer puts or before a golfer swings because it doesn’t take much to throw them off.
What’s happening there is the reptilian brain of that golfer is trying to determine what was that noise? Is it something I should be afraid of? Should I run? Should I just stay here? Should I fight it? It’s fight, flight or freeze and the reptilian brain is the first thing that kicks into play. Now, the higher levels of order in our mind take over. Our limbic and our neocortex say, “No, you can ignore that.” It gives us a better understanding. But, with a golfer, that moment is so quick that the rest of the brain doesn’t really have a chance to correct itself or suppress the reptilian response.
Now, that may be a little bit out there for you, as well, so I use the fish and I use the golfer. But, what’s happening with you everyday? If you get focused on your project or the action that you want to take, you get focused and you get clear on what you want to accomplish that day. What’s happening with you everyday? Are you getting distracted by the shiny object? The lure? Are you getting distracted by the noise that’s in your ear somewhere else? The phone call. Are you getting distracted by those things? Some people call those squirrels. You know, when you walk your dog and all the sudden a squirrel runs by and the dog just wants to chase it. Well, this is the squirrel syndrome and we all have it because of the reptilian brain.
However, we do have a way of suppressing it and moving forward and getting back on track. One way that I like to say that we can get back on track is to name our squirrels. If you can name your squirrel what is it that typically distracts you? Then you have a better chance of looking out for it. It reminds me of a story I was told by one of my bosses when I was working at corporate. Loved the guy, he was so funny. He was also very inventive. He would talk about squirrels that were running in his attic. Squirrels that were running in his attic. He would catch the squirrels, safely, and release them and they would come back to his attic, so obviously, he found where he thought they were getting in, and plug the hole or the area that they were getting in and he would release them but they kept coming back. Somehow they would get in.
He tells the story of catching the squirrel, a squirrel or a few, and taking nontoxic spray paint, at least he told me it was nontoxic because he knows I love animals. As he told the story he made sure that I knew he wasn’t harming any animals. He would take these squirrels after he caught them, take this nontoxic paint, and he wouldn’t literally, orange paint and spray paint their little bums. Yeah, little circle, little bums. I thought oh my God, what are you doing that for? He said, “I want to know if these are the same squirrels that were coming back.” He would catch the squirrels and then he would release them somewhere farther away from his neighborhood. Then he would come back and if there were more squirrels you’d be able to tell. This was his way of identifying the squirrels.
Sometimes we have to name our squirrels. The story goes on, it’s kind of a funny story because he was vacationing in Florida one year and he overheard a couple talking about these squirrels that had these orange circles around their bums. I don’t know, he didn’t know whether these squirrels were traveling or what was going on. The real point of this story is to let you know if you can identify your squirrels you have a better chance of dealing with them. I call it naming your squirrel so that you can tame your squirrel. Name your squirrel so you can tame your squirrel.
Now, a squirrel for me, and I don’t know what your squirrels are. I have a client who tells me that they’ve got tons of squirrels just running all around. A squirrel for me would be, let’s say, chess. Online chess. I will be in the middle of something and then I’ll get a message that says, “Hey, somebody wants to play chess,” and I’ll go on the site and I’ll end up playing a game of chess. I’ll just play one game. I’ve been working for three or four hours, I’ll just play one game. Then it turns into two or three games. It gets real competitive. Next thing I know an hour or two hours have gone by. I play time chess so that I can keep it down to a short time. I’ll still be distracted and enjoying the chase of that squirrel, but I know that it’s a distraction and it’s kept me from being productive.
What’s keeping you from being productive? Name your squirrel. Can you name one right off the bat? For me, chess. Online chess. Speed chess. Is it Facebook? Is it social media? What’s your squirrel that’s distracting you, that’s taking your eye off the ball, that’s the shiny object that’s in your ear. Something that’s just taking your mind off of what it is. Now, we do need distractions and that’s where your limbic and your neocortex part of your mind and brain needs to kick in and say, “Okay, we’re going to play this game of chess but we recognize that we have a function and a focus and a clarity around the action we want to take to get this job done. We’re going to be productive today and we’re going to get this job done.
I’ll play one game of chess, boom! Then I’m back on task. See? That is the higher level of thinking that we all have available to us that can supersede and overcome the reptilian part of our brain. I ask you, name your squirrel and then think about how you’re going to tame your squirrel. Productivity is a really big item and we’re going to talk more about the different aspects of productivity, but I call it the squid, squirrel ID is the first part. I’m just going to leave that with you. I hope that’s been helpful and look for more of these videos and we’ll talk to you again soon.
Thank you. Remember, live with an attitude of gratitude. Give when you can, and of course, you have this power to choose so love first and then choose. Talk to you soon. Take care.
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Visit me at www.clarencecaldwell.com/highperformance