We are all on automatic and consequently overwhelmed. How can we tune back in?

Daniel Goleman states in his newest book Focus, “our attention and focus are under siege.” We are kidnapped and diverted from being our best in the moment.

How are we captured and detained from being our best leaders, truly developing others and having them grow their focus and leadership? None of this is our intention. So how does this happen and what we can we do?

This challenge is getting more attention and focus with the Third Metric conference, http://huffingtonpost.thirdmetriclive.com/why and Ariana’s Huffington new book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.

In the write-up for their upcoming conference, April 24-25, they write:

“The relentless pursuit of the traditional measures of success — money and power — has led to an epidemic of burnout and stress-related illnesses, an erosion in the quality of our relationships, family life, and, ironically, our careers. Money and power are only part of the equation. What’s missing is “The Third Metric” – a combination of well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.”

What happens to get us off the mark from what is most important to us? We are TAPPED out for controlling our focus. Below are six of the main diversions or reasons I have discovered in my work as an Executive Coach with leaders in the corporate world.

Because of these diversion and distractions we miss our most important targets: the main people in our life. Each distraction has disciplined action strategies to regain your focus and intentional actions.

T = Task over empathy or person
A = Automatic responses
P = Power
P = Procrastination
E= Energy
D = Distractions

In this blog I cover the first three diversions with disciplined actions to recapture your focus. The last three will be explored in the next blog.

T = Task over empathy or person; We know what captures our attention at work is the next and continual pressing problem or fire to put out at work; the report that is due, customer complaint, failed product or service, missed deadline or revenue projection. What is missed, relegated or put off are your people issues. Now research tells us these two brain networks analysis or social issues are independent and one inhibits the other.

Anthony Jack, an assistant professor of cognitive science at Case Western Reserve, says in a news blog on the university's website that "this is the cognitive structure we've evolved": "Empathetic and analytic thinking are, at least to some extent, mutually exclusive in the brain," says Jack.

So when the shiny light of analysis of the problem is your focus you are not able to simultaneously focus on the people issues. We all know this but now brain neuroscience explains the process.

Disciplined Action: Make sure you maintain your dedicated time with your people. Are your individual and team meetings consistently held so your social network is activated and you can put off or buffer the crisis of the day?


A = Automatic responses: Research tells us we operate from our habits 95% of the time. When we stay on automatic we stay average! We then miss times of compassion, connection and growth with our significant relationships at work and home. Dr. Daniel Kahneman says we think our conscious part of the brain is the hero of our story but in reality is has a supporting role to the unconscious, automatic and fast thinking brain. The slow thinking, he calls “system two”, takes more effort, focus and he says we are lazy and opt for the automatic fast thinking of system one.

Disciplined Action: Take time to reflect and truly think. Get in to the gap between stimulus and response and ask good questions of what is for your highest good right now. Ask yourself “what is a goal I have for each of my key relationships? What is something I want to tell them?” See article highlighting the Emotional Audit to give you a strategic tools get in the gap.

P= Power Recent studies by Adam Galinsky and his colleagues from the Kellogg School of Management, found that “power reduces the ability to understand and how others see, think and feel.” The executive or manager is married to their perspective of being right and reinforced by their position power. They can negate, debate and diminish other points of view in an automatic snap. Their lack of empathy will not only undermine talent development but produce poorer decisions. What direct report will debate their manager who has seniority, confidence, conviction and experience?

Disciplined action: Leaders with high emotional intelligence know how to save their input to the end of a conversation so to encourage, hear and not bias other points of view to get a rich diversity of opinions.

We will continue with the three other diversion and distractions in the next blog.

To get more information on how to enhance your focus and emotional intelligence, check out our 20-day training course, eiFocus

Find free leadership tools to help you and your team develop deeper emotional intelligence and success at work and balance in life by clicking here to sign up for our free membership site, eiCentral

Author's Bio: 

Master Certified Coach and Doctorate of Psychology (PsyD), Dr. Relly Nadler is an expert in emotional intelligence and leadership development. For over 20 years, top executives and corporate teams of Fortune 500 companies have benefited from his live training, coaching, team building. Now, leaders everywhere, of all company sizes and budgets, can join his online learning boot-camps that include membership to his exclusive library of webinars, videos, other tools and resources that he has developed, together with live group coaching calls. Go to TrueNorthLeadership.com/store to learn more about what is available.