How do you tune out the noise and allow in the useful and timely?
Time to resurrect a post from three years ago this month. The topic: noise. And what we can do about it. It’s all around us and when we don’t pay attention it can overwhelm us.
Shawn Achor provides a useful four-point checklist to help identify and separate the noise from the useful. Perhaps you can use these as your path to noise cancellation.
Ask yourself, Achor proposes, if what you attend to (or what you endlessly speak about) is unusable, untimely, hypothetical, or distracting. More specifically,
- Unusable. Will the information you continuously “take in/give out” change your behavior? If not, you are probably wasting time.
*Example. As I type this, our nation is in the grips of the virus pandemic. Every newscast tells you they have your back with facts not fear. Ask yourself if watching two, three, or more hours of coverage of the virus is helping or hindering you. Is the amount of new information and usable information you get in that time changing your behavior? That is, are doing anything differently. Or does nothing change other than maybe the level of your anxiety. You could be self-medicating on Noise.
- Untimely. Will you use the information, now? Will it more than likely change in the future when you might use it?
*Example. Is the situation so fluid that changes are expected, often? You hear, for instance, that tomorrow’s news briefing by the city leader will give more direction about what to expect. OK. Will all the speculation about tomorrow’s headline help you now? Does the speculation change by the hour—and will it change the leader’s briefing? Useful, timely—or Noise?
- Hypothetical. Do we focus on what “could be” rather than what “is”?
*Example. The pandemic is serious No doubt. There are valid concerns about social distancing, hand washing, and economic impacts. We are told to act with “an abundance of caution.” The scientists and doctors understand what can happen. They provide hypotheses for the immediate future based on their research and expertise. Others provide hypotheticals based on who knows what. Helpful or Noise? (And since hypotheticals can change, see numbers one and two above.)
- Distracting. Does the information deter you or stop movement toward your goals?
*Example. Your goals relate to your career, relationships, health, finances, intellectual development, emotional stability, and spiritual wellbeing. How much of the onslaught of information you get hit with (and allow yourself to be hit with) relate to those goals? How much gets in the way of goal achievement? And consider that what is distracting for one group (Noise), may be considered needed information by another. Again, consider a pandemic example. Not all people have been adhering to the suggested social distancing. Some do not feel at-risk. They find the warnings to be Noise. Others, believe they are at-risk, and find the warnings usable.
Noise is in the ear of the beholder. What is noise to me might be nuggets of gold for you. How do you discern the noise from the gold? How do you tune out the noise and allow in the useful and timely? And, how is that working for you?
Video Recommendation for the Week
What can (and do) you do to “turn your brain into noise canceling headphones”?
Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.
My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.
Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.
Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.
In the meantime, check out her blog.
And you can still order:
- My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
- Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.
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©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®
Yes, I practice these tips with others’ blog posts and with the news now: headlines only, unless I need to know more to keep our families safe. We’ve shut off the constant news cycle, focusing on news I can use, avoiding scare bombs and divisive discussions.
Smart and healthy, Marian! 🙂
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