Dealing with the elephant in the room

The life of a minor league baseball player is largely about waiting. Your career trajectory isn’t solely determined by your work ethic, talent and intangibles. It’s also controlled by the organization which, well, owns you. And that organization usually has specific needs and philosophies which can leave you in limbo.

Such is the plight of Matt Harvey, a pitching prospect in the New York Mets organization. In his second year of professional baseball, Harvey has played all season with the Buffalo Bisons, the Triple-A affilate of the Mets (one step below the major league level). He’s been waiting all year for to make his major league debut. And mixed in with the waiting is a boatload of public speculation about his call-up  — from sportswriters, from fans and all over social media.

That’s a lot to deal with. So does Harvey focus by trying to block out all the hullabaloo? On the contrary. He makes it part of his process.

“It’s something I’m not trying to block out because it’s going to be there. [I’m] bringing it in and using it as fuel to be better. …. Someone once told me if you try to avoid it, it’s already become a problem in your head. Bringing it in, accepting it and just going forward with that task at hand is what I’m doing.”

And he got me thinking about focus. Is focus the absence of all distractions? Or is it acknowledging the distractions? Do you get further by ignoring the elephant in the room? You can try, but eventually the elephant may sit on you, even as you pretend he doesn’t exist. Today, instead of blocking out everything that might “distract” me, I’ll try to acknowledge it and move on. Odds are I’ll find a solution or a better thought and end up more productive and with better results than if I tried to ignore the elephant in the room.

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