Tag Archives: distraction

Distracted from Your Talents

In North America we have been using the phrase: “Jack of all trades, master of none” since 1721.  That’s a long time.  Somehow during my lifetime it’s gotten worse.  For many of us it seems to have reached and gone beyond overload.  We are now wearing wayHATS too many hats.

When I started working back in the early 70s the internal structure of businesses was more hierarchical.  There were layers.  It mirrored the thousands of years of class structure.  An executive had a secretary (yep, that’s what they were called) who managed all the administrivia so the executives could do what they did best.  That might have been managing people or product.  It might have been negotiating deals.  Whatever it was, they were given the room to do it.

Somewhere in the 90’s when computers became more accessible and “user friendly” the Organization Chart “flattened out”.  What that meant was that very few people had an individual assistant (the new name for the secretarial function).  Most people were on their own.  They did all their own correspondence, appointment setting, supply ordering, etc.  Great. (It certainly improved the possibilities for women in the workforce and I am ALL for that. As women we were and are generally more successful than most men at multitasking.  We’ve literally been doing it for ages.)

Now we have all sorts of whizzy programs and apps to help.  That seems efficient at first glance.  And for those of us that like to exercise some control, it allows us to do that.  We do it all.  And at what cost?

Sure, we know we aren’t as good at some things as others.  Maybe we even find resources to help with those.  Personally, I could not function without my marketing and tech support.  But and however, instead of being able to really immerse myself in my true talents I am constantly distracted by needing to learn how to handle something new.  I’m stopped dead in my tracks to find someone to fix something that is way beyond my skill level while the techno wizard is stopped dead in their tracks when it comes to some non-techo thing.

The result of all this is that we all get distracted and pulled away from our real talent, the thing that is our unique gift, what we alone can do.  Our true talents get lost and we hardly have time for them.  Instead of exercising our gift, we are busy doing the work of wearing many hats at the same time.

The fundamental problem is that if we try to learn how to do better at things that we are fundamentally not good at we can go from being crappy to being adequate.  If, however, we can improve the places where we already have talent we can go from being good to being stellar.  The real trick to this is finding ways to get support from people who have talent in the areas you don’t so you have time to improve and use your talent.

What can you do to give yourself more room for your talent?

If you’d like to explore how to have your money support your talent rather than distract you from it give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at  www.sensiblecoaching.com


Shell Tain, The Untangler


What happens when we are distracted?  Mostly we end up missing things. Lately, I have had first hand experience with the need to minimize distractions.  I had to have a tooth pulled (yipes!) and, as a result, ended up with a cast in my mouth.  It was sort of like this giant wad of silly putty over half of my lower jaw.  And wouldn’t you know it, I had a talk to do three days later.

I knew that I had to address this big glob in my mouth.  If I didn’t, no one would actually hear anything I said.  Instead, they’d be wondering about the wad of white over my teeth.

I learned about this years ago.  I was taking a philosophy class.  The professor, let’s call her Marjorie, distractionshad this thing going on that totally distracted me.  She had a piece of lint caught on the inside of her panty hose on her calf.  Now in those days of pantyhose, that kind of thing happened to the best of us.  The thing that got really distracting was that it was there, in the same spot for about 5 days.  My mind just fixated on it.  What was going on?  Did she not wash them?  Did she never take them off?

While in her class I just kept pondering this, and being distracted.  I have no idea what philosophical things she talked about.  I wasn’t actually present.

I used this story of Marjorie’s Lint as I busted my tooth thing so people could actually pay attention during my talk.  It was an even better story than the ‘bar fight’ one I had been tempted to make up.

And then, as I often do, I started thinking about how we distract ourselves from looking at our money.  Many of us let any little thing substitute as something to give our attention to.

It takes attention to do well with your money.  It takes focus.  It takes actually noticing.

More and more credit card companies do their best to keep us distracted.  One of the more recent techniques is to go ‘paper free’. I’m all for not cutting down trees and conserving…but when I choose to not get a receipt, I’m also choosing to not register in my brain, or anywhere else, the purchase I just made.

There is a cost we incur when we are distracted.  We miss stuff.  Around money, what we miss the most is allowing money to do what I think is its most important job: Telling us what we are doing with our assets. Money’s main job is to show us what we are up to.  Are we spending on things we care about, or just spending?  Are we truly honoring ourselves through our money, or not?

Money has all sorts of information to give us…AND…it won’t chase us to do it.  It will only give you the information if you ask for it, look at it, demand it.  So money information is even more prone to being missed by our being distracted than other things are.

How do you distract yourself from looking at or managing your money?  What would it take for you to actually look?  What do you make up would happen if you did? Let me know at shell@sensiblecoaching.com




It’s both amazing and amusing what things can distract us.  By being distracted we lose sight of our goals and dreams and somehow get caught in weird stuff.  I recently was reminded of an intriguing example of distraction and what it can take to overcome it.

You may recall that last week’s blog was about a Christmas my family spent in Vancouver, Canada while my dad was producing the Littlest Hobo TV show in the early 60’s.  One of my readers wrote and said that she had loved that show.  In responding to her, I was reminded of one the odd, behind the scenes things about the show.

The Littlest Hobo was about a German Shepard who traveled from town to town helping humans.  The only character that stayed the same each week was the dog. Each week new actors flew up from Hollywood to be in the show.  There was a five day shooting schedule to produce each 30 minute show.  With those constraints there was little room for doing things over and over again.  Each evening my dad and the director would watch the “rushes”, which means the scenes that were shot that day.  I sometimes was able to watch them too.  I also got to read all the scripts, hang out on the set, and even was an extra on one show.  Pretty cool for a pre-teen!

distractionThe dogs all belonged to and were trained by a man named Chuck Eisenman.  There were three dogs that played the one part, London, Toro, and Thor.  My recollection is that London was the sire of the others.  Each dog had specific talents and was used for different tasks.  One was really good at close-ups, facial expressions, tilts of the head, etc.  Another did more ‘tricks’ like picking up things, and another was a really good runner.  Two of the dogs are in the photo attached here, and the handsome dude is my dad.

Mr. Eisenman was certainly a remarkable trainer, and these were remarkable dogs.  They knew colors.  Dogs aren’t actually color blind.  They have receptors for blue and green shades, but not for red shades. So they see like humans.  Eisenman would tell London to go shake the hand of the lady in the green dress and he would.  He would tell the dog to “improve the illumination” in the room and the dog would go find and turn on the light switch.  It was very remarkable.  And of course, all this training and talent meant that the dog really could carry a TV show, and even out-Lassie Lassie.

There was just this one little distracting problem.  It didn’t actually affect the dogs or the trainer.  It was a problem for the actors.  It was actually a VERY distracting problem for the actors.  The dogs were all trained exclusively to verbal commands.

On top of that, Mr.  Eisenman was an aggressive, somewhat impatient man, with what one might call ‘colorful’ language skills.  This made for a great deal of distraction for the actors, and really amusing rushes for my dad and I.

Imagine the scene if you will.  London has saved Marsha from a horrible fate, in some remarkable and athletic canine way.  John is so happy to have her back!   John and Marsha embrace.  The sound track is:

“Marsha, I love you, I’m so happy you are okay”

“John, I love you too, I’m just glad to be alive”


That’s what was heard in the rushes, in every scene, under the dialogue of the actors.  All that had to be cut out in production.  It was really funny to watch and hear, sort of like some wacky Saturday Night Live script.

The thing I never even thought about until the other day was how incredibly distracting it must have been to the actors.  As an actor you are trying to “stay in character”, express certain emotions, and ignore what isn’t supposed to be in the scene.  Challenging under normal circumstances but with this loud guy yelling and swearing at his dogs, it would seem to be even more distracting.

And yet, they did it.  The “show went on”.  Some of these actors were old pro veterans, others were new kids in age and or experience.  They all found a way to ignore the less than subtle background noise and do their part in the scene.

It says something about those constant nagging naysayers in our head, doesn’t it?  If actors can do it, so can we.  We can choose to just “go on with the show” and ignore their judgments and criticisms.  We can be effective in spite of the distractions.

That would be a pretty hard act to follow, wouldn’t it?