I have been thinking a lot lately about one of the greatest obstacles in life.
Every good thing I have accomplished has been a result of overcoming this obstacle.
In the business world I can separate the good from the great by simply applying the filter of who is disciplined in this area.
The obstacle I speak of is Noise.
It is sometimes verbal but increasingly visual.
Analyzed individually each element of Noise is rarely damaging.
Most Noise entertains. Distracts. Feeds an appetite of curiosity. Educates. Informs.
Noise is not inherently bad. But I wonder if we are becoming addicted to it. Try to get me to put my iPhone down.
And yet in every area of my life the accomplishments and progress I am most proud of came as a result of turning off the Noise.
I have written before that I believe a change occurs in us when we seek to create rather than consume. Creating for me often happens after I consume material aimed to stimulate thought.
Reading is impossible without turning off the Noise.
Something happens within me when the Noise is off. My brain seems to shift into a different gear. I feel differently physically. I find myself needing a note pad… or more often a keyboard to record the ideas that instantly flow.
I begin to see my career, my life, my family, my spiritual progress, and other people more clearly.
I start thinking about goals. I contemplate who I am. Who I want to become. And what I need to change.
Any innovative idea I have ever given birth to was conceived in a moment free of Noise.
Every change I’ve made in my life to be a better father, husband, friend, employee, leader, or disciple has come as a result of me turning off the Noise.
Some of us who are raising the next generation desperately long for elusive moments of introspective silence.
Anyone who has a career rather than a job can point to unrelenting demands that know no hours of operation.
It’s hard to find pockets of creative silence in a world of email, texts, and tweets.
Too often we define productivity by the number of emails we’ve read and can delete rather than the ideas we’ve generated or progress we’ve made toward our life’s goals.
Yes, turning off the Noise can be difficult.
Many of us are looking forward to a stage in our lives when we think we’ll have more time to contemplate. I worry that when that stage arrives, if it ever does, that our career paths will already be well worn, our children will be raised, and more of life’s journey will be behind us than before us.
Personal note: Forgive the quick personal note at the end of this post. I want to say thank you for the many notes and comments many of you have submitted. This blog has witnessed more than 250,000 unique visitors in the last few months. The volume has been stunning and humbling.