When she makes a comment, it is not unusual for me to be in another world. At any given moment, I can shut out the extraneous stuff and keep my mind on its current task.
It is not that I am not interested in what my wife is saying, my mind is just fully engaged with whatever I have tackled. When we have a true conversation, I try to give her that same intense attention.
While this has often caused me to do some fancy dancing to get out of the dog house, the ability to focus was a valuable skill when I worked for Apple for nearly twenty years.
For much of my career so much was happening, that it was hard to decide what was important. And even if you could figure what needed attention, it was hard to not fall victim to all the other fires burning around you.
I remember a great commercial that was done once with alligators swimming around an office desk. That was sometimes how I felt. When it got that way, it was critically important to focus on the alligator about to take a bite out of you. Taking out the closest alligator before heading onto the next challenge wasn't just an option, it was the only way to handle them.
Switching challenges in mid-stream, almost always required more time and got worse results.
The other thing that helped me a lot when alligators were swimming around my desk was hiring people who I could trust to do their jobs and to pick whatever slack that they happened to see. I always found that letting good people do what you hired them to do was far better than trying to micromanage them.
I still remember some amazing events in the spring of 2004 when I was director of federal sales at Apple. My mother had just died. I was dealing with my fifth boss in five years, and I had a near revolt on my hands with Apple struggling over a period of seven months to figure out how to pay my team correctly.
There were some things that needed attention. I had more on my plate than one person could possibly handle. The two managers that I had working for me, Bob and Stephen, stepped up to the plate and handled what needed doing. My area associate, Brenda, did more than her share of the work.
The one thing that I needed to focus on, an event about cluster computing, got done and was a tremendous success. If I had tried to do everything, I would have failed.
The older we get, the more often we have to figure out what we can do and what we need help doing. I feel lucky to be able to do almost all that needs doing around our home. I've been banned from climbing high ladders, but that is okay with me.
When you go for a walk on the beach, it is easy to get lost in the moment and enjoy the magnificient surroundings. I feel fortunate that I can concentrate on a beach walk, and when I get back home, I don't find it difficult to get back on track to finishing the things which need to be done whether it is killing some wild onions, working on my book, or my day job at WideOpen Networks.
I often see people trying to drive and talk on a cell phone. I know there was a time when I did my share of that, but I have sworn off of cell phones and driving. On December 16, when I left the parking lot at the beach, I took the extra two minutes to make the phone call before I started driving. The idea of texting while driving is totally foreign to me.
Fortunately I have to give texting my undivided attention or the message will be pure gibberish. There is no risk of me trying to text while driving.
I'm not certain how I learned how to zone out everything and focus on the chore at hand, but it has served me well over time. I wonder if military school had anything to do with it?