Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

The Key to Success: Being Interruptible

The mark of kindness, of a mature and compassionate person, is this: interruptibility. As it turns out, this is all it takes to begin making a difference right now, wherever you are.

Interruptions

Photo Credit: Fey Ilyas via Compfight cc

Are you interruptible? Do you let the noise of the world collide with the busyness of your life… in a good way? If you want to be a true friend, a mentor, a difference maker, then this characteristic, this discipline, is a must.

Ways to gauge interruptibility (or the lack thereof)

Here’s how you can tell if you’re living an interruptible life:

  1. You don’t constantly look at your watch or get distracted when meeting someone.
  2. You can easily sustain eye contact with another human being.
  3. You make the conversation about them, not you (even if they’re seeking your advice or counsel).

I’m not great at this stuff, but I’m learning. And I’m realizing that my schedule and tasks and all-around busyness doesn’t make me nearly as important as I think it does.

Face it. You aren’t that big of a deal. Neither am I. Life, for the most part, is about people. So let’s make some room for them.

A quick note about interruptions

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be productive. It doesn’t mean you don’t focus on your work or priorities or have some vague notion of where you want to end up in life.

In fact, it means the opposite.

Being interruptible is the opposite of being distracted. Busyness creates stress, which requires you to escape (i.e. distractions). But a life focused on others requires a willingness to be interrupted.

Never assume what you’re doing is more important than what someone else needs from you. That’s the first rule to living a life that matters, that leaves an impact. You must be humble.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be known for being open to occasional interruptions than the guy who never veers off task. The latter is what we expect of a robot. The former, an actual human being.

Which would you rather be?

The secret to great stories

Guess what happens at the turning point of every great story? Something unexpected happens. Maybe it’s a setback or catastrophe. Maybe someone dies or gets pregnant. But something must happen. And when it does, people react.

The space in between that incident and people’s reaction is a sacred place we all can relate to. And in that space our character is tested.

Some people get mad, while others get depressed or go into denial. Even others press in and embrace the inconvenience for what it is: an opportunity. A chance to grow.

And those who choose to do so are the rare ones we remember. Some may even call them heroes.

So the question is: Are you interruptible? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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