Rfslogo New

A Busy Mind is not a Disorder

Picture of Karl Palachuk

Karl W. Palachuk
July 14, 2008

Let me be very clear here: I’m not a doctor. I don’t play one on TV. I don’t hand out medical advice. I just find myself thinking about the world around me and I can’t help “thinking outloud” on the web.

I’ve heard the term “ADHD” — Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder — but I’m not entirely sure whether I believe it’s a disorder or just the far end of a normal distribution.

The concept of a “normal distribution” tells us that 68% of something is within one standard deviation of the mean. That means things are bunched up in the middle. The average person is average. The average IQ is average. The average ability to focus your attention on something is average.

95% of the population is within two standard deviations from the mean. and 99.7% of the population is within three standard deviations from the mean.

That means, if you’re outside the “norm” for any given trait or behavior, you don’t have to be very far outside to be very different from everyone else. I don’t know if that’s a disorder.

But if you’re a good notch or two different in a trait that affects lots of other things, then the way you process and interact with the rest of the world will also be different.

Not wrong. But different.

– – – – –

Any trait that’s a bit out of the norm (on either end of the scale) can affect your ability to succeed, learn, get along with others, etc.

I’ve written before about Success and the “Monkey Mind.” Monkey mind is a term we use to describe a busy, fast mind. We have so many thoughts rushing in on us that we can’t straighten them all out.

I am blessed (and cursed) with a monkey mind. When I go for my walk in the morning, I almost always come back with an idea for a new book, a new business adventure, a solution to a problem, etc. The problem is: I have hundreds of ideas per day. When I filter them, I think maybe five are really good ideas. One might be a great business adventure.

But this happens every day. Most of these thoughts don’t contribute to anything. And I already own enough businesses. I’m constantly being tempted away from the business in front of me because the next great adventure seems so exciting.

This monkey mind makes it hard to concentrate, hard to pray, hard to meditate, hard to relax, hard to sleep. I need to shut my mind “off” sometimes in order to relax and actually get something accomplished.

In the real world, there are no bonus points for having lots of ideas, even good ideas.

As a result, people with very busy minds are often less “successful” than people with a more normally-paced minds.

At the other end of the spectrum are people whose minds are less busy than the norm. I’m not talking about people who are “slow” or mentally retarded. Just one or two standard deviations from the norm. They simply don’t have an onslaught of new ideas every day.

In many ways, they are more likely to find success because they are not distracted every day.

Remember, you don’t have to be very different from the great masses to seem very different.

– – – – –

Here’s the thing about success: Whether you have too many new ideas, or not enough, the solution is the same.

To be successful, you need to put your time, effort, and energy into a few key behaviors.

First is Delay of Gratification

Second is Patience

Third is Activity — don’t procrastinate

Fourth is Focus. Focus like a laser beam on your goals.

The result of these behaviors is someone who gets up every day and works hard on the handful of things that really matter. They lead you to work very hard on the things that you know are successful. They keep you from being distracted by new adventures.

The starting place, whether you need to quiet your mind or focus your energy, is daily quiet time. Mornings are best because you focus your energy before you start your day.

So whether you’re smack dab in the middle, or a little bit different from the great masses, the starting place for success is the same: spend some time thinking about where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Keep Reading . . .