Blah, Blah, Blah, Bzzzzzzzz

“I need to stop and get milk on the way home from the office. I wonder how that new employee we just hired is going to work out. Wow, it’s hot in here! I’m hungry. This paragraph I’m reading makes no sense. Boy it’s sure hard to concentrate right now. The stock market is way down today. Man I’m really hungry. Note to self – pick up wife’s birthday present. Must also remember to follow-up with Smith on the Franklin contract. Blah, blah, blah, buzz, buzz, buzz . . .”

Does this sound like what is going on in an entrepreneur’s mind ALL THE TIME?! Do you recognize the pattern? If you are like me, you have a million thoughts crossing your mind at warp speed and on a continual basis throughout the day. There are all kinds of statistics to be found, but the National Science Foundation provides a range of 12,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day for each of us. Even on the low end, that’s a lot of thoughts. As a result it’s easy to become overwhelmed by our own minds. We are constantly bombarded with massive amounts of stimuli – much more so than ever before. I believe that the Internet and technology in general has enabled us to be connected with a multitude of people and things that contribute to this trend. Think about a farmer in the 1800s. He might read a newspaper every once in a while. Beyond that, he wasn’t really in touch with the world outside his own small community. He worked hard physically. His mental challenges were pretty much limited to providing for and taking care of his family.

How hard would it be to just to sit quietly for 30 minutes and think of absolutely nothing? I don’t know many people who can actually do this. And yet, we need to be able to clear our minds of the clutter that accumulates throughout the day. A friend of mine has some wonderful advice. He says, “Listen deeply into the silence behind the noise.” Yes, much of what we think is just noise. Have you ever tried to talk on the phone with someone while a very loud conversation is occurring within earshot? Have you ever tried to focus and concentrate when there’s a loud television blaring in the background? This is exactly what is happening in our minds with all the thoughts competing for attention. So what to do?

To listen deeply into the silence behind the noise means that we must clear and quiet our minds. There’s probably nothing harder for us entrepreneurs than to slow down and turn off our thoughts. But I think you’ll agree that when this is accomplished the flow of creative energy becomes even greater than before. And of course creativity leads to better products and services; a more acute awareness for solving problems, and stronger interpersonal relationships. Whether you meditate, practice yoga, take long walks, or engage in some other daily mind-clearing activity the important thing to remember is to be present. Most of us are either thinking thoughts about the past or the future. When I take a walk I try and focus on where I am and what I’m experiencing in the moment. I observe the color of the sky, the shape of the clouds, the birds I’m seeing in the trees and the sounds that are cascading around me. Above all, I’m able to push all of the thoughts about past and future out of my head and live for the moment during the time I’m taking my walk.

We must be intentional about clearing our minds of the clutter that accumulates. Only then will our creative energy be heightened in positive and rewarding ways.

 This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.


Mom Threw Out My Baseball Cards!

Question: I looked at my desk the other day and shuddered. It’s an absolute mess and I have no idea where to start (my garage at home is in the same condition, only worse). Should I light a match?

Answer: Hold off on the match for a while. As I pondered this question I realized how easy it is for our lives to become cluttered with “stuff.” We live in a society of possessions. In the 1800s, pioneers made their way across this country with some clothing, an heirloom or two and not much else. How well would we fare if we didn’t have 90% of the “stuff” that we have? I know it would certainly be tough for me. And I tend to discard things that don’t work anymore or that I don’t need or want. My parents were hoarders. It was amazing the things that they accumulated over the years. Fortunately I do not possess the hoarding genes.

The physical clutter in our lives can be a mirror of the clutter that resides in our minds. How much “stuff” is rattling around in the attic of our brain? What does this clutter mean for our emotions; our creativity; our personality, and our ability to function at a high level? I have an easy self-test that serves as a bit of an early warning system when I’m getting mind clutter. When I find that my concentration level begins to slip, that’s my brain telling me that it’s on overload and the clutter is reaching the critical level. So what have I done to resolve this dilemma? My solution is what I call “selective memory.” It used to be that I tried to remember every last detail of everything with which I was involved. This was the case in my personal life as well as my business life. And one day I just couldn’t do it any longer. So I decided that it’s just not important to remember every single detail. Now, I live in the moment and then move on. If there is something important that I need to remember I slow down long enough to make sure I’ve absorbed it and I tell myself that I must remember it. I’m a slave to my electronic calendar, task list and electronically archived documents. No longer do I try and remember where I’m supposed to be four days from now at 2:00. I just look at my calendar and I know.

You may be reading this and think that I’m the Master of the Obvious – and maybe that’s true. But wait until you’re my age and are trying to recall decades upon decades of “stuff.” I wish I’d learned how to prevent mind clutter much earlier in life and bet that my productivity would have increased immensely. Today I make no apologies when someone asks me about something someone said several weeks ago and they get a blank stare from me.

The process of selective memory protects me from mind overload; allows me to live in the moment, and release that which isn’t important for me to remember forever. As entrepreneurs we can improve our productivity by de-cluttering our physical and our mental lives. Maybe my mom started teaching me this when she threw out my baseball card collection nearly 50 years ago . . .

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Baseball Cards