Lifeguards Don't Text
It was the most incredulous thing I had seen in quite awhile. I kept looking to make sure my eyes weren't deceiving me. I even rechecked the Diet Coke I was drinking to make sure someone hadn't added something to it. There were at least ten teenage and early twenty-somethings standing and sitting idly nearby... and not ONE of them was texting or staring into a mobile device. They didn't even have one with them! Was this a flashback to the 90's? Was I hallucinating? No. They were lifeguards. And to be successful in their roles, they can't afford to have any distractions.
As I floated around the pool with my daughter, I reflected on how refreshing it was to see a group of people completely focused on the task in front of them for an extended period of time. It's so rare in these days of constant distractions and opportunities to be pulled off task. From a leadership perspective, I felt a true sense of freedom for myself and my daughter, knowing that they had my safety and well being as their top priority. I know what you're thinking... "Jones, they HAVE to stay focused! If they don't someone could drown or be injured." Let's explore that line of thinking for a moment.
Unless you are employed in public safety or as a medical professional, you are correct in that most of our tasks don't have immediate life and death consequences. BUT every task represents the opportunity to "guard" something. Let your guard down for a moment, and there will be consequences. People's physical lives might not be at stake, but innovation, creativity, productivity, quality relationships, and even our own personal well-being are struggling to tread water. Consider these examples:
- Fail to guard the words and phrases you use in a conversation and the opportunity to improve a relationship has been lost
- Send a poorly constructed email, text, or message to someone, and you find yourself diving into a big pool of misunderstandings and frustration as you try to save the original intent of the communication
- If you don't guard against distractions at work, you'll find yourself really busy... but you left your highest priorities gasping for air at the deep end of the pool
- Fail to guard your own personal time, and you'll soon find yourself washed over by resentment of your work and others who seem to be draining the very life out of you.
The solution offered by these lifeguards? Understand your purpose and focus solely on the task in front of you that best fulfills your purpose. Doing anything less puts everything that's important to you in danger.
How can you be your own best lifeguard today?