Rise Above the Noise
Finding quiet purpose in a world of loud distractions
Attention and time are two of the most precious assets you can give anyone or anything. The number of messages, ads and general communication coming your way at any given time isn’t letting up. If anything, it’s increasing. All of this competition for your attention puts a premium on what you allow to occupy your imagination and drive your leadership.
Add to all those messages the pressing demands of your schedule and work, and it’s easy to feel lost amid the noise. You need strong filters in place to ensure you rise above the noise to hear and make yourself heard.
So, how do you quiet your mind so you can think, listen, and engage strategically and intentionally? It all starts with a commitment to prune, focus and follow through.
The Discipline of Pruning
Even good things can become noise. I enjoy spending time with other people. As a young leader, I regularly filled my calendar with back-to-back meetings. Some of these were with one person, and some were with many people. I loved the rush of moving from one conversation to the next.
Over time, this started to wear me down and kept me from thinking clearly. I realized all the meetings I scheduled resulted in more stuff to do. But not all of it was material to the outcomes I needed to accomplish.
My crazy scheduling habits left me with little time to do anything but keep pace with all the meetings. Eventually, I realized my desire to fill my calendar was creating so much unnecessary noise I couldn’t even think critically to make clear-headed decisions.
I needed to clean out the clutter on my calendar and eliminate the excess noise in my life, so I could become fully present with the people needing my attention and fully prepared to make critical decisions when necessary. The only way to accomplish this was by developing the discipline of pruning the excess. Any meeting that wasn’t essential had to go.
Don’t let someone else dictate your schedule or distract you from God’s purpose and plan.
The Discipline of Focus
I’m an achiever by nature. I like to set goals and meet them. Whether these goals are personal or professional, the thrill of rising to the challenge is exhilarating. It feels great to meet or exceed goals. In fact, it feels so good that the temptation is to do it again and again.
As a result, I became more interested in setting and meeting goals than making sure the goals I was setting and meeting were the right ones. The toughest choices are never between good and bad but better and best. I needed to be sure what I set my mind to accomplish was in alignment with where God was leading.
The discipline of focus protects your time and attention by ensuring you give your best to what is most important for fulfilling your God-given vision. It’s much easier to say than do, but it’s necessary to ensure you channel your energy and creativity to the projects and milestones that will drive your leadership, team and organization forward in accordance with God’s plans.
The Discipline of Execution
The most critical way to rise above the noise is in the discipline of execution. Once you prune the excess and focus on what matters most, the path forward is clear. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when the clutter and noise are out of the way and you focus single-mindedly on following where God leads.
There is a level of clarity you achieve that will propel you forward. I find that when I’m in this state I can drown out — and even eliminate — anything that might distract me from my goal. Likewise, I can home in on and listen carefully to whatever input I need to inform my decision making.
This heightened state of awareness is what some people call living and leading “in the zone.”
If you don’t decide what to give your time and attention to, others will. Don’t let someone else dictate your schedule or distract you from God’s purpose and plan. Deploy the disciplines of pruning, focus, and execution to ensure you live and lead in an optimal state for change and impact.
When you rise above the noise, you’ll find that others are more eager to follow where you lead — which means you’ll be in a better position to point them toward Jesus. More is rarely better. Less is, indeed, more.
Often, people will listen to your life before they listen to what you have to say. When your actions inspire others, you can speak into their lives more convincingly. Take your life and leadership back by only investing your time and attention in what matters most.