February 2007 Archives

Sitting Quietly In a Room By Myself

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Peggy Noonan got my attention recently with her article called "For a Pot of Message". In the article she reflects on how politicians change their "beliefs" in order to craft a message as a series of sound bites that will sell. I was particularly interested in this paragraph:

Earlier this week I heard a minister quote a spiritual genius: "All the problems in the world are caused by man's inability to sit quietly in a room by himself." We're restless and need action, which in a modern media world means information. We need the busy buzz--the Internet, TV, instant messages, magazines and newspapers, the beeps and boops and bops. Rudy's up in Iowa. Hillary's stuck. We want to be among the first to have this information and the first to share it. And we want it not because it's crucial but because it distracts us from the crucial. It takes our minds away from what is most important. Who you are, for instance, or what we are about. It's a great relief not to think about the important. It's a relief to focus on factoids.

I find myself often guilty of this. It's so much easier to process email than to sit and think intently about a difficult employee, system architecture, or developing character in my children. It's easier to read the new blog entries in my RSS feeds than to sit quietly and think about something long enough to post an entry of my own.

Busyness is partly to blame, I suppose. There never seems to be enough time for the work of a day. It takes no real time commitment to read a few blog posts or emails - or so it seems. But it takes a bit of a commitment to clear your mind of distraction and focus intently on a particular subject. I wonder if priorities are more the issue than busyness and that if I made time for thinking I'd be less busy. I know that I make better decisions when I take the time to really focus and think. Better decisions result in greater efficiency. Greater efficiency gives me more time for important things like... thinking.

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