Question: I hate to admit this but there are times when I’m physically with my family, but I’m not really there. Instead I’m thinking about something happening in my business. How can I focus more?
Answer: Whoa! If this were 20-years ago I’d feel like I was looking in the mirror! I’m proud to say that when my kids were growing up I made all of their school plays, piano recitals, soccer games and the other activities in which they participated. But for certain, I wasn’t always present in the moment. Did they notice that I was only there with a physical presence but not necessarily mentally? Probably not? But I knew then and I know now.
There’s a story I like to tell about a trip I took to Disneyland as a five-year old boy (no, Disneyworld didn’t even exist). I don’t have many memories of being five, but this one I remember like it was yesterday. We arrived at the park and passed by a car ride where the cars were on rails, but you had to steer and use an accelerator. I started bugging my parents to let me go on that ride, but they said I was too young. I’m sure we went on many wonderful rides, but I was obsessed with that car ride and let my parents know every few minutes. By the end of the day I had worn them down and they finally relented. Back then, there were no height restrictions regarding rides so I excitedly sat down in the car and my mom sat in another nearby car. When the ride started I had no idea what to do. At five, I didn’t have much experience steering anything other than a tricycle and I was clueless about the accelerator. So I just sat there until one of the attendants came out onto the track; stood on the running board; told me to step on the accelerator, and he steered me around the track.
Obviously this experience has stuck with me my entire life. And it also taught me a valuable lesson. I don’t remember any of the fun things we did that day – all because I was living in the future, obsessing about the car ride. As it turned out, the car ride was a major disappointment so I was 0 and 2 in the win-loss department. I didn’t live in the moment and have fun, and what I was focusing on turned out to be a bust to boot.
Multi-tasking can be a wonderful thing but it requires a balance. While the kids were growing up, I would have been better off living in the moment and savoring every precious second that they were young. Yes, I was there, but not always in the savoring mode. And here’s the kicker. I don’t believe that anything I was thinking about while watching a school play had a real meaningful impact on my career. I’m now living this premise: if it won’t make a significant impact on the future, I’ll deal with “it” later rather than allowing a distraction from what I need to focus on right now.
Living in the now will prevent regrets in the future. Thus, we can shape the future by savoring that which we are living right here and now.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.