I watched the movie "Deepwater Horizon" this weekend. It's based on the disastrous BP oil spill. That devastating event was totally human error. Taking short cuts. Not paying close enough attention to what was needed to get the job done correctly.
I thought about how many small and not-so-small problems start with not paying full attention to the task we're doing. Too often, people make mistakes in daily life because they just weren't paying attention.
Decades ago, I went through a frazzled period of relationship stuff. It was often at the back of my mind when (if I knew then what I know now) I could have compartmentalized parts of my life much, much better. During one of those distracted periods, I wrote checks for my monthly bills. Suddenly, my checks were bouncing all over New York City. Insufficient funds fees mounted, and I had noooo idea why. There were no automated banking features back then, so I finally went to the bank to see what happened. I'd written a check for the full amount of my checking account to the oil company! They just put in on my account. I was lucky they returned the extra when they found out my error. Since then, I've learned to shut off my problems when I'm working or dealing with money. I want my job and my money!
We're human, and sometimes we go through things that become all-consuming, and it's understandable to be distracted and make mistakes. But that's actually rare for most periods of our lives. For most days of lives, we aren't usually dealing with true emergencies and hardship. And still many are not "present" for large chunks of daily life.
As a society, we have adopted multitasking and distractedness as a way of life. We commit a slew of safety mistakes on a daily basis:
- talk on the phone while crossing the street with a baby carriage,
- check messages and social media while driving,
- make money transactions while checking a message or talking to a friend,
- chip teeth while using them as scissors or openers,
- put on makeup while driving,
- keep abreast of social communication while performing our jobs.
It's really important to start checking ourselves before the worst happens. Sometimes the worst is not so bad, but sometimes it can be life-shattering. If you don't know how to focus, learn how. If it's hard to stay away from social media, start training yourself. Tell yourself often that the most important thing is THE thing you're doing right now. Learn to control yourself.
Once you know you have common sense, make yourself use it all day long. Walk slower, breathe, make decisions about what you do with your mind and your body. Don't go around on automatic. If you do, the law of averages says that sooner or later you will be very sorry you did.