Information is . . . distraction. That’s what President Obama said in commencement address in May.
Let me repeat that: “Information is distraction.”
I admit I don’t have the full context of the President’s remarks, and this post isn’t about meant to take his words in that way.
The phrase DID get my attention however, and then it got me thinking.
While I don’t think all information is distraction, I think it can be. Information can be distraction when it is:
- overly random
- poorly organized or categorized
There is lots of information in my life that qualifies as distraction if qualified this way. (Which is why, while I like Twitter, I rarely read the full feed from those I follow – it breaks most all of these rules most all of the time!)
On the other hand, information is the life-blood of a highly effective and motivated person and leader. We must be seeking new ideas, input and concepts. We must be looking for the information that will help us reach our goals, solve our problems and create new solutions.
So while information can perhaps be a distraction, let’s focus on how we can get more of the information we want in our lives more effectively.
Information isn’t a distraction when it is:
- what we need to solve a problem
- timely for our situation
- something we want
- something we need
- something that helps us reach a goal
- accessible and useful
So it makes sense that we seek ways to identify and capture information that does these things for us.
When we find information packaged in this way it is of great value to us – because it saves us time, reduces our distraction factor and allows us to be more purposeful in moving toward our goals.
So how do we find that information?
We find it in journals and newsletters, on highly specialized forums and in workshops and learning events tightly tied to your needs, and on the best blogs (to name just a few examples).
To make information work best for us it must be dense and tightly packed together. I don’t mean it must be high-minded or academic, but rather written and organized in a way where there is maximum learning available in the minimum required learning (or reading or researching) time.
If you are serious about your achievement, if you are serious about your success, you must seek out and utilize these information sources. They may cost more on the surface; a specialized journal on a professional or personal endeavor will cost more than a subscription to Fortune or Field and Stream. But the reduction of distraction, the increase in efficiency of your time spent, changes the cost/benefit ratio of these resources completely.
Your leadership activity today is to review some of your information sources and see if they are distracting you, or focusing you on achieving the things and improving the skills you most want to improve. Then take action based on what you find to reduce the distraction and increase the use of the sources that best serve you!
Important Note: If you are specifically looking to improve your leadership skills, I suggest checking out our brand new monthly Insider membership. You can learn more on a post I wrote recently.