Noise: Living and Leading When Nobody Can Focus

Noise: Living and Leading When Nobody Can Focus

by Joseph McCormack
Noise: Living and Leading When Nobody Can Focus

Noise: Living and Leading When Nobody Can Focus

by Joseph McCormack


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Teaches managers and leaders to cut through the static and hone their focusing skills

In the current digital age, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to stay focused. Smartphones, tablets, smart watches, and other devices constantly vie for our attention. In both business and life, we are constantly bombarded with tweets, likes, mentions, and a constant stream of information. The inability to pay attention impacts learning, parenting, prioritizing, and leading. Not surprisingly, attention spans have gotten shorter. Already being pulled in a dozen directions every minute, managers and business leaders often struggle to address important issues and focus on everything that needs attention.

Noise: Living and Leading When Nobody Can Focus teaches managers and leaders how to help themselves and others sharpen their focusing skills. In this follow-up to his first book Brief—the proven, step-by-step approach to clear, concise, and effective communication—author Joseph McCormack helps readers cut through the static and devote their attention to what is important. This engaging, informative book will help you:

  • Apply effective, real-world techniques to hone your focus and reduce interference
  • Learn the lessons taught to organizations such as Harley-Davidson, BMO Harris Bank, MasterCard, and the US Army
  • Understand how modern technology can actually strengthen your focus if used correctly
  • Avoid becoming a casualty of “weapons of mass distraction”

Noise: Living and Leading When Nobody Can Focus is a valuable resource for leaders and managers seeking to develop laser-sharp focus and apply it to everything you do.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781119553373
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 12/05/2019
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 707,706
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

JOE MCCORMACK is passionate about helping people gain clarity when there is so much competing for our attention. He is a successful marketer, entrepreneur, and author. His first book, BRIEF: Make a bigger impact by saying less (Wiley, 2014) sets the standard for concise communication.

Joe is the founder and managing director of The BRIEF Lab, an organization dedicated to teaching professionals, military leaders, and entrepreneurs how to think and communicate clearly. His clients include Boeing, Harley-Davidson, Microsoft, Mastercard, DuPont, and select military units and government agencies. He publishes a weekly podcast called Just Saying that helps people master the elusive skills of focus and brevity.

He lives in Pinehurst, NC, and suburban Chicago, IL.

Table of Contents

Foreword xv

Preface xix

How the Book is Organized xxii

How to Read This Book xxiii

Acknowledgments xxv

Part One Weapons of Mass Distraction 01

1 Noise, Noise, So Much Noise 3

Kenny Chesney Gets it Right

Hearing Decline and the Loss of Focus

Access to Information Will Only Increase

Attention Spans Will Remain Elusive

Our Minds Will Become Anemic and Impenetrable

2 Huh? We’re Going Collectively Deaf 11

So, Why Do We Tune Out? A Variety of Reasons

The Impact of the “Elusive 600” on Our Listening

How Words Become Worthless—and Triggers for a Tune-Out

My Mom Thought I Had a Hearing Problem

3 Brain Basics: Are Your Penguins Falling Off the Iceberg? 19

Our Brains are Changing

Working Memory in Decline

Brains are Like Computers

We’re Losing Impulse Control

Our Brains Get Hooked

How Often Do We Check Our Smartphones?

4 Living in an Info Junkie Crack House 31

Training and Education Will Be the Gateway Drug

Impending Health Impacts?

A Potential Threat to Consider

Who Can Stop This?

More Brain Celery

Part Two The Big Tune-Out is Coming (Imagining The Unthinkable-Six Short Stories to Wake You Up) 41

5 Always Stuck at School 43

Serious Triggers

New Protective Behaviors

Terrified Parents

Disturbing Statistics

Our Children in Isolation

Is it Addiction?

6 A Misleading Leader 53

Streaming Information

Losing Momentum

Powerful Monologue

All Talk, No Action

7 The Loss of Civil Discourse 61

Her Civic Duty

Uninformed and Confused

No Respect

Tower of Babel

Catching Her Attention

8 Mind-filled Momentum at Work 67

Connected While Exercising

Last-minute Briefing

Driving Connected

Yet More Tasks and E-mails

Diving Right into the Weeds

Trying to Salvage Success

9 2050: A Parenting Odyssey 77

Technology Was Only a Mild Interrupter for Them

A Carefree Time

Deep Loss of Daily Contact

Struggle to Disconnect

Technology is with You Everywhere You Go

It’s Just Living for Them

Why Did We Worry So Much?

Parenting without a Voice

Fighting a Force

10 Safety Briefing with Near-tragic Results 85

Part Three Time for You to Tune In: Awareness Management (AM 101) 93

11 Awareness Management 101 95

Lighting the Path Before Us

Lives Can Become a Blur

Missing the Moment Entirely

Our Minds are Spinning Beach Balls

The Elusive 600: Your Enemy or Your Friend?

Runaway Thoughts

Waking Your Mind from Mindlessness to Mindfulness

Directed, Undirected, and Misdirected

Commit to “Awareness Management”

What if We Don’t Manage Our Awareness?

AM Pre-set Buttons

12 Take Aim: Set Your Sights on What Matters Most 109

Essentialists versus Non-essentialists

No More Deafening Noise

Pointless Routines

A Minimalist Decision: Keep it Simple

Aim Small, Miss Small—Tips to Direct Your Focus

Post It: Simplicity Isn’t Complicated

To Simplify is a Deliberate Decision

13 Saying No to Noise 123

Just Say No

The Power of Self-Mastery

Overcoming FOMO

No, Here’s How You Do It

Addictions Weaken Willpower

Running to Yes on the Road Toward No

Self-control is a Personal Way to Stop the Noise

Impulse Management: A Few Daily Distractions

Feel the Peace of Singlemindedness

Five Small Steps to Make That Little Word a Big Part of Your Life

14 Quiet Time: Restoring and Recharging Your Mind 135

Dimly Lit Dinnertime: Our Brains Barraged and Batteries Drained

The Extrovert Ideal and the Allure of Open Spaces

Why Be Quiet (I’ve Got Something to Say About That)?

Risky Isolation

Rewarding Isolation

Steps Toward Quiet

Contemplatives in the Middle of the World

15 Present Listening: A Gift Worth Giving Now 149

Why is it So Exhausting to Listen?

Professional Listeners: It Pays to Be Interested, Not Interesting

Becoming a Present Listener—Seven Critical Considerations

A Special Reward for Special Forces

Selling Yourself Short with Others

The Payoff of Present Listening

Part Four Getting Others to Dial In: Focus Management (FM 101) 159

16 Focus Management 101 161

Changing an Environment That Doesn’t Want to Be Changed

Putting Fun Back into a Party

The Role of a Focus Manager

A Program Manager for a Life Filled with Simplicity and Clarity

FM Pre-set Buttons

17 Wanted: BRIEF Communicators 169

When So Many Words Become Worthless

Losing the Meaning

You Can Change It

Message Lost in Translation

Winston Churchill’s Brevity Memorandum

Concise Communication: A Necessary Curriculum Requirement

BRIEF Basics

Clarity is Your Number 1 Priority

18 Communicate Like a Magician 181

Brain Science Behind Sleight of Hand

The Power to Make the Restless Rest

A Baker’s Dozen of Communication Techniques, Tips, and Tricks

19 Preparing the Environment for Noise Abatement 191

The Failure of Open Floor Plans

Screens Everywhere at Work

Home Rooms Unplugged

Old-school Schools

Remaking Healthy Environments to Filter Noise Naturally

20 Herding Cats: Facilitating to Focus More, Fidget Less 205

The Joy of a Canceled Meeting

Teaching Students to Tune Out

Need Some Help Leading at Home?

Fundamentals of Facilitation: At Work, School, or Home

Making it Easy for Everyone to Work, Learn, and Live Together

Part Five Pre-Sets: Simple Programming for Noise Reduction 215

21 Personalizing Your Pre-Sets 217

Personal Pre-set Programming: Customize Your Settings to Manage the Noise “The Lineup”: Playing to Win by Keeping Score

22 That Sounds Wonderful 235

Recommended Reading 239

Notes 241

References 249

About the Author 257

About The BRIEF Lab 259

Index 261

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