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The Dangers of Distraction

Written by Rebecca Okamoto on Jan. 18, 2015

You probably know the perils of driving while distracted.

We've all seen people driving and texting, or checking their hair in the mirror. Wherever their focus is, it's not on the road. According to a Carnegie Mellon study, driving distracted with a cell phone drains 37% of brain capacity.

When it comes to driving our careers, we're often the same way. Distracted.

When I was a new manager my peers and I were forever distracted by a fellow manager, Mark, who was an unabashedly ambitious. There was always buzz about something he had done.

One day Mark's self-promotion backfired.

All new managers had been invited to lunch with a visiting VP, Gary. Gary was the highly respected guardian of 9 enduring high performance design principles. When the Q&A session opened, Mark asked Gary which was his favorite principle out of the 9.

Gary turned the question around and asked Mark to name his.

Mark hesitated and then invented 2 principles. The gaffe was obvious. The managers were abuzz. Finally, a public misstep, and his mishap validated our collective opinion that Mark was a self-promoter. We talked about it for weeks.

But at the end of the day, it didn't matter.

Within a year Mark was promoted ahead of the rest of us, and a few short years he later left the company. I hear he is a CEO now.

Today I wonder how many hours we spent focusing on someone else's choices and success.

How much capacity was drained buzzing about something we couldn't control and that didn't impact our success. Just imagine if those hours had been focused on ourselves and not on someone else.

We can't drive safely and reach our destination by focusing the driver in the next car.

In the same way we can't drive our careers if we're constantly comparing ourselves to others and watching them drive towards their success.

Let's share the road with others and not get distracted by them. And we can keep our eyes focused on our goal.

Ready? It's time to hit the road!

Looking for more career tips?

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