Want to know the most frequent piece of advice I’m giving lately?

It’s a piece of advice I gave to the staff at a recent internal training.
It’s a piece of advice I gave to friends and colleagues who are crumbling under stress.
It’s a piece of advice I gave to DJ Waldow and Nick Westergaard for their recent Work Talk Show.
It’s a piece of advice I gave to anyone who has asked for “the one thing that will make a difference” for them, personally or professionally.

Candle flame

Learn to meditate.

I mean that in all seriousness. Here’s why: the dark side to the economy of attention, which is the wonderful, powerful economy that drives social media and digital marketing, is the abundance of distraction. Every time a content marketer publishes a new infographic, a new YouTube video, a clever Tweet, etc., they are attempting to grab your attention. That is, by definition, a distraction. They are making a withdrawal on your attention, presumably in exchange for something of value. But that interruption, that disruption, that distraction very often costs far more than you get in return for a cheap laugh at a graphic or a retweet of a cute status.

The antidote to distraction is focus. Focus comes from discipline. Discipline can be taught with meditation. While everyone and everything in marketing is looking to withdraw from your bank of attention, you can make deposits of focus with meditation.

How do you get started? Pick something that requires you to be in the here and now only. For some people, that’s the stereotypical image of a person sitting cross-legged on a mountaintop, inhaling the mists and chanting. That does work for some people. For others, it’s going for a run, painting, going to the shooting range, training at the dojo, singing… whatever activity or practice that requires you to be fully invested in the here and now only, activities that tolerate no distraction and in some cases have adverse consequences if you allow your attention to waver.

Incidentally, what do we call someone who takes unfairly, returning little or nothing?

A thief.

Stop letting thieves steal from your bank of attention. Create focus with the meditation practice of your choice so that you build up the vault walls and strengthen the door by disciplining your mind to keep the thieves out. Once you learn how to do this, you will find that you’ll get more done, be happier, have less stress, and be more effective at everything in your life.

If you’re still looking for a way to get started, I strongly encourage you to drop the 99 cents for my teacher’s guided meditation on iTunes. Stephen K. Hayes will take you through a 9 minute basic practice to get you back to the here and now, and the ROI of increased focus is enormous. Give it a try.

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