How to Conquer Daunting Distractions


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In karate, there is a group drill that is done for the benefit of a person we’ll call “A, " who is using his basic foot work to make progress from one side of the mat to the next.

About five people are harassing him, shouting, making jokes about how goofy he looks, razzing him in a zillion ways, and physically pushing him around, as well.

A’s job is to focus on his objective, to keep moving toward it, and to continuously retain his poise and composure while these miscreants are literally and figuratively in his face.

It’s not easy, but it is a drill that has universal application.

How many times, at work or at home, have you been pressed by difficult personalities and tasks that just seem to multiply?

At some point, you feel overwhelmed, that you can’t go on, the distractions are too difficult.

Maybe you need to do some homework for that night class you’re taking, and your newborn is crying incessantly. How can you even crack a book when any moment of silence is bound to last no more than a few minutes?

Why bother?

At least this is what you’re apt to think.

But can you keep your cool enough to make progress, to be a warrior in that situation or in a hundred others that are as vexing?

You can. It’s not easy. Here are five things to keep in mind:

(1) NOT being interrupted is a luxury at any time in our lives. With the reach of cell phones and GPS (global positioning satellite technology), how can anyone cut the tether and get any peace at all? It’s not easy, but most modern people in sophisticated cultures are facing similar stresses. You’re not alone. Take comfort in that.

(2) You can’t be a perfectionist and handle multiple challenges, too. With some of your tasks, you’ll just have to perform at the get-by level, instead of in the upper one tenth of one percent of effectiveness. There is a reason that mom with three kids going to three different venues after school; soccer, ballet, and to the math tutor, has no time to get her hair and nails done.

(3) Be like the novelist who finishes a book in a year by writing only one page per day. Break down major objectives into tiny increments. Remember the adage: “Inch by inch is a cinch. Yard by yard is hard!"

(4) Don’t depress yourself with memories of how easy it used to be when life was simpler. It only seems simpler in the rearview mirror. The good news is you’ve faced big challenges before and you succeeded. Don’t doubt your abilities to do so, now.

(5) Handling lots of responsibilities is actually enjoyable, providing you do just that; you learn to handle them. It’s also the mark of being a fully fledged adult. There aren’t many of us. We’re the few, the proud, the burdened.

But we soldier on, and that’s the key.

Let them taunt you, push you around a little, and even get in your face.

But just keep making progress, and all of these obstacles will fall away, and you’ll still be standing!

Best-selling author of 12 books and more than 1,000 articles, Dr. Gary S. Goodman is considered “The Gold Standard" in negotiation, sales development, customer service, and telephone effectiveness. Top-rated as a speaker, seminar leader, and consultant, his clients extend across the globe and the organizational spectrum, from the Fortune 1000 to small businesses. He can be reached at:


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