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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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Distractions, Wonderful Conversations, and Driving on Empty

One of the greatest joys in life is spending time with your loved ones. At least it is for me. There’s nothing quite like having shared experiences and some good old human, face-to-face interaction to strengthen our relationships and understanding of each other.  I had the chance to do just that on a recent a road trip with my husband, daughter and her friend. Car time is wonderful for conversing, sharing music, and enjoying each other’s company.

On this particular trip, aside from actively participating in the conversations, I was also the driver. While I was paying attention to the speed limit, traffic patterns, and road signs, I neglected to notice the gas gauge. I was so focused on dialoguing and driving, that I ignored a very important sign until it was too late…well, almost too late.

At one point my attention shifted when I noticed the yellow “out of gas” indicator light and the “zero miles remaining before the gas ran out” gauge. Fortunately, I saw the warnings right before an exit. Despite the fact that the highway exit sign didn’t indicate gas stations available, I opted to get off the highway. I thought, as did my passengers, that it would be better to run out of gas on the exit ramp than on the highway. As the story goes, there was a gas station located at the bottom of the exit. Phew! We pulled up just in time and filled the tank.

I felt stupid and embarrassed. This could have been inconvenient, not to mention dangerous. After berating myself, I had to let it go and move on. Mistakes happen. Focus shifts. No one got hurt. Our gas tank was now full. This experience left me thinking about distractions…as in in how many things can we effectively focus on at once? As it turns out, we can’t handle too many.

The moral of the story: If you have too many distractions and competing priorities, you may find yourself running on empty.

What distractions surprise you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join the conversation!





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Reader Comments (12)

Out of gas, out of medicine, out of coffee happens! It's about knowing that we all experience situations that are not the best, but we are hardest on ourselves. That awareness helps those around us including our family, friends and clients in normalizing these times. It's always a good reminder when this happens. It's a caution to slow down and be more aware.

November 15, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

@Ellen- Thank you for normalizing this. We all run out of something at times because we aren't being fully present. Or we might be present in one area, but lose sight of another. Life certainly involves juggling many things be it conversations, traveling or gas gauges.

November 15, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

How true! Distractions come in many shapes and sizes. The trick is to learn to forgive yourself when the consequence truly doesn't matter. Ask yourself some questions - was anyone hurt? Was it a learning experience? Can you put in a plan to prevent running out of (medicine, coffee, gas)? Knowing what to give your full attention to is tricky at times. I believe we all have things to juggle - hopefully we prioritize them successfully and don't let too many balls drop!

November 15, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Diane- Forgiveness. Yes! You said this so well..."Knowing what to give your full attention to is tricky at times." There in lies the rub.

November 15, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I guess my distractions would be feelings of self doubt, they get in the way of me taking the next step, maybe self sabotage, maybe the fear of the unknown, that makes us self doubt. This can most certainly catch you running on empty, stuck in place.

November 15, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJill Robson

@Jill- Distractions come from so many places...and as you said, often they can be internal distractions like self doubt. Are there any strategies you use that help you move forward when your internal distractions take over?

November 15, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Dear Linda,
Your gas tank will never be empty:-) As for distractions, I can think of worse ones than rich conversation with loved ones.
I tend to overlook such mundane priorities, like checking the gas level. Lol
The family know me by now. Oh, here comes mom, trying to solve everyone's problems and forgetting to check the tank. I wonder what this says about me. Don't answer that:-) I know. I'm working on it.
On a more serious note, I do believe that we can't effectively focus on too much at once. Something has got to give. And, sooner or later, we realize that not tending to our well being, can result in breaking down of other areas as well.
Reevaluating priorities has to be daily practice. We may not always be successful but a good sense of humor goes a long way. Oops, back to the drawing board for you missy.
Thank you for sharing your experience, Linda. I count on you for my daily gem dose.

November 15, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterYota Schneider

Yes, Linda, i get out of the house!!! I intentionally go to a business meeting or meet someone for coffee, it might not seem productive to onlookers but mental health is so important for a sole entrepreneur.

November 15, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJill Robson

The past three weeks I have been running around crazy. With my husband traveling and the kids competition activities coming to an end and my work schedule, it has been quite busy. So much so I didn't even have time to think about what I wanted to do this month on my blogs, and the month is almost over. So, I decide, I would go with it. I stopped judging myself and I told myself, I am not able to create fresh new content as often on my blog. I will instead focus on sharing older content and modify existing posts so I can save time and still feel like it is fresh. That's been working.

November 15, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

@Yota- I was thinking of you this weekend. Steve and I had lunch at "our place." We have to set a date soon...OK? Thank you for your wonderful, uplifting words of support. Of course I realize that my priority WAS having a "rich conversation." And while that's not a bad thing, running out of gas...not so good. But I think aside from it being a good story, I also think it speaks to other situations where our distractions can take us away from what's important. And as you said too...humor is always a good thing to pull out of our back pocket...especially being able to laugh at ourselves.

@Jill- Ahh. What a great strategy! You get a break from the internal message by intentionally getting out and shifting to an outer focus. So smart!!!

@Sabrina- I love that you gave yourself a free pass as the creative director, to adjust your expectation of what you thought you "should" do. That's fantastic! I totally get that too. I have the goal of writing new content once a week, but there have been times when it's just not possible. A few years ago I had a mini coaching session and the coach asked the question, "What would happen if I didn't blog every week? What if I gave myself a break every once in a while?" At the time it seemed like a radical suggestion, but as I thought more about it, I realized it was a very rational one. Sometimes the "skipped post" is intentionally planned, and other times I use it as a free pass if I need a break.

November 15, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

This can happen so easily. It's as if our brains have a limit on how many items they can process at one time, and when we exceed the limit, it just pushes something aside. The thing is, we never know which item is going to get pushed aside! I love this story because it reminds me that even good/happy things can be distractions. It isn't only work and emails and the phone, it can also be a house full of people or the details of a special event. When the distractions are on overload, I try to step back and assess what can be rescheduled for a calmer moment.

November 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Seana- Our brains definitely have a limit! I like the image you describe of having things "pushed aside" when we exceed that limit. It sounds like you're very aware when you're experiencing overload situations and are able to regroup to better manage. Brilliant!

November 21, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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