This article is about staying more focused on what matters most so you can get more of the right things done daily and improve results. But first I need to set the stage by presenting what is often the biggest obstacle to that goal: getting sidetracked throughout the day by what—in the full scope of reaching your potential as a human being—is trivial and in some cases, doesn’t matter at all in that regard. In other words, choosing to be offended by someone or something and stepping out of your personal high-performance zone in the process. If you have listened to my Game Changer Life podcast episodes, or have read my new book, Unstoppable, you are fully aware of this danger and how to overcome it.
Without question, one of the chief culprits that inhibits maximum productivity for multitudes is a growing and uncanny knack for choosing to be offended by what is minor—often dozens of times throughout the day—and losing focus on what matters most in the process. The good news is that no one can offend you without your consent; you have to take the bait and step out of your zone, and thus diminish your effort, energy, enthusiasm, passion, attitude, focus, and productivity as a result.
In today’s politically-correct charged, hyper-sensitive culture of crybabies, there’s seemingly no shortage of opportunities from which the masses have chosen to be offended by on a daily basis. It’s not my place to tell you what you should or shouldn’t be offended by, but to bring to your attention to a wide range of culprits today so you can evaluate which offenses you have invited into your life, and determine if they are worth the loss in effort, energy, enthusiasm, passion, attitude, focus and results they incur.
Here’s a sampling of common offenders: public prayer; the pledge of allegiance; religious symbols on gravesites; the headlines; the book title; a comic strip; FOX News; MSNBC; an announcer’s commentary; a speaker’s voice; an Instagram post; her hairdo; that tie; a pastor’s sermon; the nut job in traffic; another’s belief system; this kind of music; that politician; her singing voice; the flight attendant’s attitude; their protest; the waiter’s lack of urgency; his glance; the fact she ignored me; the amount of time she spent on my issue; the way he answered my question; the dessert they brought to the dinner party; the punishment I got; the punishment he didn’t get; having only two restroom choices (Men and Women); right wingers; left wingers; that team’s mascot; I only got three “like’s” on the photo I posted; those late-night TV jokes; he said “midget;” she said “handicapped;” what the president said; her constant sniffling; he blew his nose too loud; the gift she gave me; he never gave me a gift; what they provided for lunch; they didn’t even give us lunch; the time I spent on hold; his sock color; her dress; those 150 year-old statues of old dead guys; your pricing; that advertisement; her accent; his flashy watch; that beat up car; their failure to take a stand; a certain point of view; his loud mouth; her silence; his firm handshake; his flimsy handshake; he didn’t even shake hands with me; referring to the former Bruce Jenner by the wrong pronoun; and I’m sure that for some readers now scurrying off to their safe space to speed-dial momma and their therapist and report they have been offended—this article in general up to this point.
Am I saying you should be a doormat and just put up with anything without addressing it or mentioning it in some way? Of course not. But I am suggesting you become far more concerned with what you invite into your life and evaluate the following to determine the negative daily impact it has on your effort, energy, enthusiasm, passion, attitude, focus, and overall productivity:
- Just how easy are you to offend, and how many times does that break your focus and cause you to spend time out of your zone during the day saying and doing less than what’s optimally productive?
Examples: getting worked up over what another department, coworker or customer said or did to you; fretting because you didn’t get the credit, or because someone else got more than you believe they deserve; and the like.
- How often do you share what offends you with others, and what impact does that have on their attitude, focus, and productivity?
By spreading the misery you’ve invited into your life with others, you also take them out of their zone, and can diminish their efforts, energy, enthusiasm, passion, attitude, focus and productivity.
- How much longer are you willing to invite into your life what really doesn’t matter when considering the big picture of fulfilling your potential as a human being?
Maturity is about gaining discernment, knowing which battles are worth fighting, and understanding that to maximize your results daily you don’t have time to set everyone straight, enter every debate, and be more consumed with being “right,” than remaining effective.
- How much of your limited time and energy are you willing to invest in things you cannot control, and render yourself a powerless victim as you complain about it?
Blaming, making excuses and investing your energy into what you can’t control all combine to create an anti-focus that can turn you into a pathetic, powerless, whiney victim unfit to lead a lemonade stand, much less a more substantial enterprise.
- When was the last time choosing to be offended by something helped you stay focused, motivated, and achieve your goals?
If it’s not moving you toward becoming a better person, making a great contribution to your team or family, or elevating results in some way, how much time do you want to waste on it?
- Would you recommend whining and complaining to your team members or kids as viable strategies for reaching their goals?
If this is what they see you do, they’re learning from your example. Everyone leads by example, that’s not the question. The questions are: what example are you leading by, and how does that impact those following you?
- Is what you’re offended by worth your loss of peace, focus, attitude, time, energy, enthusiasm, passion, and productivity? If it is, do more of it. If it’s not, grow up, give it up, and go up.
Samuel Johnson said, “The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook.” The stakes are too high for you to choose to be easily offended. Effort, energy, enthusiasm, passion, attitude and focus misspent and lost is gone forever.
The question many leaders must look into the mirror to face and fix so they can grow up and go up is not how offended they are by what has happened, but this:
How did they get so mentally soft and emotionally weak in the first place? That is what should offend you.
Author: Dave Anderson
Dave Anderson is President of LearnToLead, which provides in-person and virtual training to many of the world’s best dealerships. Dave speaks to dealer groups over 120 times each year and has given seminars in 17 countries. He’s written the leadership column for Dealer Magazine for over 20 years, and is the host of the energetic and high-impact podcast, The Game Changer Life, based on his 14th book, Unstoppable. For leadership tips, follow Dave on Twitter @DaveAnderson100. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org