We live in environments overloaded with information, stimulation and distraction. It’s so easy to get lost in the alleyways of the information highway or sucked into distraction with various mental or physical stimulants. There’s so much available to us it is simply overwhelming. There is a concept in of science and engineering called “signal to noise” that may be useful for managing this aspect of he biz of you. It compares the level of a desired signal or important information to the level of background noise or useless irrelevant information. Understanding what is signal and what is noise enables us to focus our attention on those things having the greatest influence on our success whether it be positive or negative.
A pilot has to look up from the instruments to see oncoming birds, air traffic or a mountain. A martial arts practitioner has to be aware of their situation to avoid getting clocked in the head. A successful manager has to be aware of what’s important to the organization as well as their individuals to create objectives allowing people to grow while meeting business performance goals. A nurturing mother or father has to understand what a painful cry is versus a complaining cry. Each one of us has discern the useful information effecting what we are doing. Separating the useful and important information from the less useful distracting information is critical if we are maintain our focus on doing what needs to be done. Separating signal from noise is important to do the right thing in our particular situation.
So how do we separate signal from noise in our daily lives? First we must know what we are trying to do in any given moment. This creates a foundation we can observe available information and classify it into those things affecting our success and those that don’t. Second, we can look at what affects our success and understand what we have power to influence and what we don’t (i.e. separating manageable from emergent properties). Once we know the manageable properties having an impact on what we are trying to accomplish we can focus our attention, attitude and actions on those vital few things. This is what the 80-20 rule applied to our daily activities is all about.
Once we recognize and work with the vital few things in our lives, the noise drops away leaving the music of our accomplishments. It is the music of our lives we need to tune in to and resonate with. Harmonizing ourselves with the music of our achievements and moment to moment performance enables us to connect our soul to what we do right here and now.