Strategically Focused or Distracted: What Do You and a Firefly Have In Common?

What do you and a firefly have in common? Well, I doubt it’s a bioluminescent abdomen though that could be rather interesting in business meetings. It’s that you can get deceived and distracted by false signals. For a firefly, it could be a matter of life and death. For you, it’s a little less gory but still no way to waste your precious life.

You see, different species of fireflies have different blinking patterns to help identify other members of their species and for mating. And some nefarious female characters in the lightning bug world mimic other species signaling “come hither” only to summarily dispatch the male in a carnivorous (versus carnal) act.

So what does this have to do with you leading your business and leading your life? Think about it. How many blinking lights arise in the course of your day or week? How many of those are “false signals” mimicking something that seems important but isn’t? Take a look at your calendar. Scan the prior week item by item. How many meetings or tasks were strategic—in thinking or in actions? How many were maintenance or just managing?

My own calendar was fraught with inefficiencies and a woefully small amount of time devoted to the strategic. (In keeping with the firefly theme I even highlighted the items in a phosphorescent green. It was… sadly, a mere 1.75 hours spent on the strategic—much of my time was on what can be lumped into the category of distractions.) I’m pleased to report improvement in week two and significant improvement in week three. Still, my “get it done now” mentality makes me prone to pretty, shiny lights, the false signals that mimic the strategic and important. But I’m not alone. For most of my clients, this is no easy task. It never will be, no matter your level of mastery.

Here’s how to keep from being duped. Create a clear, vibrant, and compelling business vision. One that invites strategic thinking and acting the moment you consider it. There’s no mimicry here. This is the real deal! Craft a personal leadership vision that makes your heart and mind sing.

And finally, as my coach recently advised me, you must have a litmus test for how you spend your time such as “How does this action (meeting, phone call, travel, etc) relate to my strategy?” Preview your week and review your week with that test and watch what happens…

Mary Oliver asks us,

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’ Maybe we can adjust that to “your one wild and precious light… .”

Because that is indeed what each of us is—a precious light—and that’s the one, we most need to be true to. With no distractions from what is most important.

P.S. Years ago I attended a Smithsonian lecture on gene splicing. Low and behold, firefly genes had been spliced into a tobacco plant, which was giving off an eerie glow. That research has evolved in a wondrous way. Glowing plants are being developed as a possible sustainable light source.


U.S. Library of Congress ISSN 2164-7240

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