Dear Fellow ALPHA,
If you are like me, you enjoy watching sports. My two favorite sports to watch are the NFL and the UFC. I love the constant excitement and thrill when anything can happen at anytime. You better not blink or you will miss an epic pass down the sidelines for a game wining TD or a fighter panic and get caught in a submission.
Boom! Done! Game over! If you blinked, you missed it.
So, it’s no wonder why men and women get so annoyed when others, who are less interested in the game, decide to try and carry on a conversation while the excitement is going on.
Shhh, I am trying to hear the audible. I know I have no idea what OMAHA means but it must be important! Can you pleeease go in the other room to talk?!
Sound like a Sunday afternoon at your house? I bet it does. It’s a frequent scenario in many American homes. But why is this so distracting and even powerful enough to derail the pleasure of watching the game? In scientific terms it’s called an imbalanced signal to noise ratio (SNR).
Huh? I thought we were talking about sports.
Stick with me Bubba...
The signal to noise ratio (SNR) is an equation that measures the amount of a desired signal compared to that of background noise. The equation measures the ratio between the signal power and the power of the background noise.
In our example above, watching a sporting event, the reason talking causes such frustration is because the conversation is creating enough background “noise” to disrupt your “signal” which is your desire to watch the game. However, once the background noise is reduced or removed all together the signal is no longer impeded and you start enjoying the game again.
One of the best examples of a person being able to eliminate the noise so they could focus their signal, or the task at hand, was in the Kevin Costner movie For Love of the Game. Costner play’s Billy Chapel an aging pitcher who is on the wrong side of his glory years. Still effective, but not the ace he once was.
One of my favorite parts of the movie is where Chapel is standing on the mound in Yankee Stadium. Rowdy fans are screaming insults, people are blowing horns and the train is rumbling by. The noise is deafening. It’s enough to suffocate most people’s concentration. However, Chapel tells himself to clear the mechanism a saying that allows him to focus his mind and drown out the noise.
As you can see from our Hollywood example SNR is a critical component in goal attainment and ultimately, personal excellence. I believe one of the biggest inhibiting factors that keep people from performing well is an imbalanced SNR within their life. They allow their signal to be weakened by environmental noise, also known as, distractions.
1. Media: Television programs, blogs, podcasts and music that feed your mind with fear, anxiety and worry are huge noise polluters. Staying current with world news is a good thing. However, watching or listening to intricate details about atrocities won’t help you move forward. Instead, it births an emotional state that has the potential to derail your forward movement.
2. Relationships: Negative, unsupportive people can also tip the SNR in a detrimental way. Think of people as you would a ladder. You want individuals who support you and help guide you on your path. People who are sturdy and willing to help you reach higher. Stay away from people who will deprecate your efforts, this only adds to the noise.
(Side-note - corrective criticism, or suggestions to improve an idea, are not the same as noise. This is valuable information, which can help you move forward. Corrective criticism helps you see flaws in an area you may have overlooked. The key is having corrective criticism not just criticism).
3. Social networks: Without a doubt, social networking and all of the e-pressures that come along with it are some of the biggest distractions in society today. It’s hard to keep a signal strong when you are preoccupied with tweets, followers, shares and friends.
Oh, and don’t forget about the cyber idiots. The keyboard warriors whose single intent is to troll people, spewing cyber-garbage in every direction. They leave comments and posts with the sole purpose of inflaming others. My suggestion, don’t give these people your time or energy. Don’t look at them and don’t engage with them, it will only feed their ignorance. Plus, if a stranger has the ability to derail your momentum with 140 characters, you can be sure that the noise has overtaken the signal.
I believe social media can be one of the biggest signal promoters and distractors. You can use your online networks to connect with friends, promote your business or stay up to date with the news. However, I highly suggest you do not use these platforms to dump your emotional garbage or pick up other people’s garbage. Just like Eric Clapton sang, it's in the way that you use it. Social networking is the same way, it’s in the way you use it.
4. Internal dialogue: The internal conversations you have with yourself can be the biggest noise generator of all. What you allow your mind to dwell upon is just as important as whom you hang out with, what you watch on television and what social networking activities you engage in.
Try and keep your mind keenly focused on your goal and the direction you want your life to move. Be wary of activities (see items 1-3) that steer your focus in a direction unrelated to goal attainment. It’s this simple: where your focus goes, you will grow.
By making conscious choices to increase your SNR, you can increase the probability of goal attainment. Achieving your goal can be hard enough on its own, but it becomes almost impossible with added obstacles and distractions. Remove the noise, clear the mechanism, and watch how it will lead to faster results.
Attack your life with passion!
Co-Founder & CEO, RAM