There was a rambunctious third grader in one of my workshops in Mesa, Arizona who kept playing with his pencil while I was speaking. It was a huge distraction to everyone around him. I would have him put his pencil under his paper so he couldn’t see it but like a dog digging up his favorite bone he would pull the pencil back out as soon as I would look away. After reminding him to hide his pencil several times I said, “You’ve got to learn to manage your distractions in this life.”
As soon as I looked the other way he pulled his pencil out one more time, but this time he handed it to his teacher. When it was time to write he got his pencil back from his teacher and wrote one of the best narratives in the workshops. At the end of the workshops when I let students give me “ah ha” moments he stood up and announced with enthusiasm, “When I managed my distractions I got smarter.”
Taking responsibility and control of our distractions is a key to success. Often when I am frustrated with myself I find the culprit to my unrest lies with the daily distractions I am letting occupy my time and energy. Usually, focusing on the work at hand realigns my priorities and sets my course for success. Just as the boy in Arizona I have an “ah ha” moment and realize when I manage my distractions I am smarter…and kinder…and more understanding.