The Butterfly Syndrome
It’s easy in business to get pulled away from that which really needs attention. There are so many variations on blinking lights and buzzing alerts that the ‘Butterfly Syndrome’ is easily activated. If you aren’t familiar with the Butterfly Syndrome, it’s that attention shifting behavior, where we move reactively from one thing to the next. Email can be an attractive Butterfly and so can social media. Of course smart phones are the Monarch of all attention catching Butterflies. Their compelling pull can lure even the most focused of business folk.
For me, the biggest issue with the Butterfly Syndrome is that it can be so effective at keeping us from locking our attention on that which is most important or critical.
Whether it be taking the time to increase our awareness around a particular area, crafting a plan of action, implementing that action or bringing it to completion, Butterflies will be flitting along the path. Staying with the program and keeping it moving forward requires a steadiness of mind and a pledge to largely ignore those beating wings.
Of course, some Butterflies require attention in the moment. This, of course, increases the challenge. Simply ignoring everything that flutters around isn’t realistic. To be able to attend to that one important Butterfly, do what needs to be done and return reliably to the work at hand is an art. It requires the skill of discernment and the discipline to return to the intentioned activity—the Butterfly master program.
As long as business and life continue to introduce new exotic variations of Butterflies, we will be invited to develop our attention-placing and focusing abilities.
Humans, over the last many decades, have taken a hit in this area. It’s time to muster our will and not be seduced towards ever-shorter attention spans. Placing attention and holding it for longer than seven seconds is a choice and a practice. It is essential to all aspects of fulfilling life and work. Butterflies can be great. It is however, a decision, conscious or unconscious, as to when we look at them and for how long.
Attention and focus are the precious skills of our time. We get to choose when, how often and how well we pay attention and focus. At work, in life, it matters. Getting clear and calm helps you develop both skills.