Monday, March 16, 2009

My memory is awful. My memory is awesome.

So, here's something interesting. I have an extremely selective memory. I can't remember most of what I did before lunch. To be honest, I can't remember what I was working on 20 minutes ago. At the same time, I can remember, quite clearly, the systemic challenges and events that led to a significant failing within our workplace a few years ago.

Most of the events that happen in a day I actively dismiss or ignore. I am trying to discern relevance and give items an appropriate allotment of my time and conscious effort. Most of the time, that appropriate amount is pretty close to zero.

This activity feels risky. What if that email addressed to 20 people actually had some important information or assignment for me? What if that ringing phone I didn't pick up was my boss or the Premier? What if that verbal briefing I didn't take notes for held the key to our future?

Here's the thing though. There's always more information. I think a better question would be "What's the opportunity cost if I pay attention to this?"

Just a few of our information sources are colleagues, bosses, mainstream media, bloggers, twitter, cable television, youtube, magazines and email, both anticipated and spam. Who's to say where the next nugget is going to come from? Who's to say it's going to be delivered at all? Maybe you alone are going to generate the knowledge necessary for the next step. Uh oh. That requires quiet reflection and new ideas. Can you make that space?

I'm making a focused effort to remember the macro story. The pattern that results in the win (or the loss) that defines the big chunks. I'd like that memory burned into my mind. That's the piece of information that would save me countless hours of heartache.

Without that memory, we engage in patterns and efforts that didn't work before. Sadly, I think most participants on this earth remember the small things, not the big.

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