So Distracted by Distractions — 7 Takeaways No. 109

Distracted (Image:

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1. “Elected officials never represent the actual, diverse make-up of society”

Dense Discovery Issue 220 – Kai Brach – (newsletter)

true democracy can only happen once elections have been replaced with a lottery system that hands political power to a random selection of citizens

This caught my attention for two reasons. It’s an idea I’ve had myself occasionally, and it surprised me to hear how far back it’s been considered. It also reminds me of a science fiction short story I read many years ago in which the entire nation huddled at home in fear of the knock on the door indicating they had been (s)elected president.

Not that this could ever happen, of course. Too many people are invested in the status quo.

Do this: consider whether a random person — the next person you meet, for example — might make a better representative than whomever you’ve elected, and consider what that might mean.

2. “Regenerate and recover”

Too Young to Feel So Old – Steven Kurutz – (New York Times)

I keep coming back to these stories acknowledging that the pandemic has been hard on a lot of people, in not-too-obvious ways. In particular, they’re ways that I can relate to, if I haven’t experienced them directly myself.

At her workplace, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, Dr. Arbaje has noticed what she called a “moral distress” among her colleagues and herself. It manifests itself in weight gain, dark circles under the eyes, hair loss, a bone-deep tiredness.

To the best of my knowledge my eyes are fine, and my hair remains thick. As for the others: check, and check.

Do this: Know you’re not alone.

3. “I ignore all the extra things I’m ‘supposed to do'”

In Defense of the Unoptimized Life – Evan Armstrong – (Napkin Math newsletter)

I can’t decide if this is rationalization for not doing things we’re supposed to do or honest justification. The concept here is that not relentlessly pursuing the latest performance tweak to our creations, or the latest productivity hack to our lives, gives us room for serendipity and inspiration.

Rationalization or justification, I have to admit: it’s the path I seem to be on. So many things I “should” be doing for a more successful business and productive life, and yet here I am, plunking away.

Do this: Make room for serendipity. As counter-intuitive as it seems, be intentional about it.

4. “Mistake taste for talent”

Digital natives are a myth – Adelle King – (RMIT University)

This speaks to a problem I see constantly: agism in technology. And what’s worse, from my perspective, is the self-imposed agism.

The essay speaks more to the (unrealistic) expectation that younger people naturally do better with technology.

However, digital literacy isn’t just about navigating various technologies, it’s also about having the digital competence to:

  • Extract implicit and explicit ideas from digital media
  • Stay safe online
  • Think critically
  • Collaborate and communicate across media
  • Be creative with the tools at hand or conclusions drawn

These are not skills that young people will automatically have by virtue of their competence in the use of social media, apps and smart devices.

My take is that this is nothing new at all. Remove the “digital” concept from the quote above, and it’s been true since humans evolved.

Do this: Remove age from your judgement, particularly with respect to technical competence.

5. “No one accurately sees the world as it is.”

The World as it Is – Seth Godin – (Blog)

A person with hearing loss doesn’t experience the world the same way a synesthete does. A rock climber doesn’t see a steep slope the same way an elderly person does. And an optimist and a pessimist rarely experience opportunities in identical ways.

I captured this late last year, but it continues to resonate. We all see the world through our filters. If we don’t realize those filters exist, we have no hope of improving our perception of the world around us, and especially our relationships with others. Seeing the world as through their eyes is an incredibly important skill.

I believe it’s often referred to as “empathy”.

Do this: Empathize.

6. “Looking older is the whole point.”

Does America Need a War on Ageism? How You Can Brawl Your Way to Vibrant Aging – Julia Hubbel – (Walkabout Saga blog)

I’ve been thinking a lot about aging lately — more so than usual, anyway, since it seems a common theme here — and this essay got me thinking a lot about how others treat folks past certain ages. In conjunction with the previous item, everyone views everyone else through various lenses of expectation. Some are personal, some experiential, some are societal, and some are cultural. They all color how we treat those of different ages than ourselves.

I know I’ve wanted to tell (sometimes yell at) people to “quit treating me like I’m infirm, just because I’m older than you”. If you have evidence and see I’m actually infirm or incapable, then please, yes, ask if you can help. There are absolutely things I no longer do. But stop assuming what I am or am not just because I might be older (or younger) than you are.

These are self-fulfilling attitudes. Assume I’m infirm and I’ll unconsciously tend to become more infirm. Assume I’m capable, and I’ll remain more capable longer. Maybe just don’t assume.

There is no winning a war on age. There is riding into our older years yelling Cowabunga, and happily brawling our way forward with a healthy body, a sense of humor and the tremendous gratitude that we did, in fact, get yet another day.

Do this: Let the people around you live their potential.

7. “So distracted by distractions we don’t even know we’re distracted.”

I meditated 15 hours a day for 6 months straight with one of the toughest Buddhist monks on the planet. Here’s what I learned – Cory Muscara – (Threadreader / Twitter)

This is a collection of 36 items. Many are pithy, and perhaps even obvious (if you visit the thread on Twitter he’s awesome at replying to the nay-sayers), with a few gems interspersed. I thought the one I selected above was particularly insightful.

35. Monks love to fart while they meditate. The wisdom of letting go expresses itself in many forms.

Just gonna leave that there.

Do this: Let go.

8. “Every step is part of the journey.”

Which Step? – Leo A. Notenboom – (Personal blog)

Some musings the other morning about the phrase “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

The aphorism “a journey begins with a single step” is nothing more than an attempt at motivation to take the next step. The journey’s already begun, whether you realize it or not.

Do this: Take the step.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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