In a moment of reflection, I found myself trying to estimate how much time I spend everyday responding to misleading or incorrect information. The percentage of time, measured in hours per day not minutes, was overwhelming. The sources were a mix of trusted, speculative, and ignorant. While the motives are occasionally clear, most of the time it is difficult to understand what is driving the stories.
There are two observations worth thinking about.
The fact that distractions exist should not come as a surprise. It is difficult for anyone to see all the facts in context. This is often the source of the innocent distraction. When you add to it the intentional and conflicting agenda (bias) perspectives, you have an unending supply of distractions. Each will touch you in a different way. At the same time, each shares a common trait; they are not on your critical path to your goals.
The other observation is that knowing what to do with distractions is an art with few guiding principles. I have found the following ones to be helpful.
First, recognize that you are also a source of distractions for others. Start with that fact. I find that adopting an old mantra helps; “My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.” (1 John 4.1)
Second, when distractions come, see them as an opportunity to tell your story. If others do not know, take patient time and share it with them. If others are unsure, live and breathe the heart of your story. Let the truth of it touch others.
Third, distractions are an indicator that others do now know. Reach out and tell others about yourself and where you are going. As you live, share your success and lessons learned. Tick the milestone boxes and celebrate. Learn openly.
Distractions are dangerous. They can consume you without regard for what is important. Today is an opportunity to share our story.