A few weeks ago, I had the rare opportunity to visit Disneyland with my siblings – just my siblings. I didn’t bring my spouse or children it was just me and my brothers and sisters visiting the happiest place on earth. For those who know me, you’re aware that I’m a self-proclaimed workaholic who only gets this opportunity once every ten years or so. For this reason, I decided to mentally go on this trip with my body… I just re-read that last sentence and it sounds a little strange, so I’ll illustrate what I mean…
Throughout my career, as an employee, supervisor, manager, and now owner, I have always had an ability to be in multiple places at once in my thought process. When I discover a problem I haven’t solved before (and have the time to ponder on it), I make a note of the issue in my head and go about managing our business. Think of it as a non-written form of To-Do list in my head. Throughout the day (and up to a week or two later in some cases) my brain reminds itself of the issues at hand and works in the background to resolve them, enabling me to be engaged in other necessary job functions. Urgent issues stay towards the front of the que, other issues that need more time move to the back, and those issues that resolve themselves in the meantime or are determined to be of insignificance are purged to make more space for the next issue. It’s a useful analytical skill to develop, one which enables you to handle multiple tasks and objectives at once. Like in Star Wars however, there is a dark side to this force…
Those things you process in the background, sometimes wake you up in the middle of the night with an answer, or with more questions. These become the things that keep you at night. I’ve learned to deal with those matters of mental state by keeping notes on my phone when they occur so I can jot them down, thus moving the next issue to the top of the list. But by far, the biggest thief in this process is what I call the “here and now” resource paradox.
I believe that time is the most precious non-renewable resource that each of us has to give. As a business owner, there are days when I wish I could clone myself – but so far modern science is only able to accomplish this feat with livestock. That being the case, I can’t physically (yet) be in two places at the same time. However that doesn’t imply that I can’t be thinking about something, while doing something else. And therein is the paradox – not being where you are when you’re there.
As I became more adept at managing my mental tasks, I began to lose track of being in the physical moment in different situations. Sure I was solving multiple issues at once, but often it came at the expense of others “here and now” time. As a result, time with employees, family, and in different meetings was affected in ways I couldn’t have anticipated. Sometimes it was a key point that was made that I would lose track of. Other times it was an opportunity to correct or change a process.
While I still practice solving problems in the background, my focus since my trip to Disneyland recently has been on being in the moment, instead of being in the past or in the future. I would challenge you to review your interactions with others. Pay attention to what you’re thinking or doing when having discussions. It’s possible you could be missing out on important changes or decisions that could affect your bottom line or worse your personal relationships with family and friends.
It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Hopefully the pictures associated with this blog speak more than the 708 words I’ve just used to illustrate my point. (I’m the guy in the orange shirt by the way.)