distractions — Saul Bellow
New York Yankees, and Hank Aaron, who at the time was the chief power
hitter for the Milwaukee Braves. The teams were playing in the World
Series, and as usual Yogi was keeping up his ceaseless chatter,
intended to pep up his teammates on the one hand and distract the
Milwaukee batters on the other.
As Aaron came to the plate, Yogi tried to distract him by saying,
“Henry, you’re holding the bat wrong. You’re supposed to hold it so
you can read the trademark.” Aaron didn’t say anything, but when the
next pitch came he hit it into the left-field bleachers. After
rounding the bases and tagging up at home plate, Aaron looked at Yogi
and said, “I didn’t come here to read.”
How you handle distractions at work is important. According to
Business Insider your number one distraction at work is your
co-workers. And while there are many other things that compete for
your time and attention you must develop a skillset and the necessary
discipline to effectively handle the distractions that come your way.
Here are four distractions that are quite common but if you can master
these you can surely take care of the rest.
Tying into the Business Insider finding it does not come as a surprise
that idle chatter can derail your productivity and progress. Just as
Yogi Berra tried to distract Hank Aaron at the plate when at bat, you
too, must fend off those who would cause you to take your eye off the
ball and fall victim to idle chatter. There is a time and place for
talk but make sure it is not keeping your from what’s most important.
If you can’t stop the idle chatter you need to remove yourself from
it. Don’t get distracted by idle talk.
There will always be those critics who tell you how to hold the bat,
what you are doing wrong, and what you should have done. Berra tried
getting into the Aaron’s head by telling him he was holding the bat
wrong. In leadership you will discover that many distractors are
should-a-been’s and wannabe’s who feel it is their place to set you
straight. You will not eliminate your critics, but you can learn to
silence them. How? Just like Aaron did. He hit the ball out of the
park and that’s what you have to do. Nothing will silence your
distractors quicker than remarkable success.
Similar in approach to the critics there will unfortunately be a
regiment of complainers who feel it’s their calling in life to
complain. You know their type; they are not happy unless they make
others miserable, they find the cloud in every silver lining, the
pitcher is always half empty, and things are just never quite as good
as they think it should be (especially if they were in charge). If
you’re not careful these complainers can turn into major distractors
if you don’t learn to ignore them. Simply consider the source and move
on. If the complainers’ lot in life is to be unhappy then you have the
right of refusal to go along. Stay above it and out of their way.
What is so detrimental about the cynics is that they never truly
bought in to the mission or vision of your organization or values.
True team players are all-in and totally invested in doing everything
possible to make things work. Shared values are critical to your
success. To be sure there is a need and place for constructive
criticism that is given by someone with skin in the game. The cynic is
merely looking out for himself. As a leader you must recognize the
cynic for who he or she is and not allow that person to distract you
or the rest of your team from reaching your goals.
As you develop an awareness for distractors and how they operate you
will need to sharpen this vital leadership skill. While on the surface
some distractions may seem lighthearted and good natured you must
learn to tell the difference. Your leadership and your future depend
What do you say?
Doug Dickerson is a syndicated columnist. He writes a weekly column
for this newspaper. To contact Doug Dickerson, email him at