Dull The Noise So You Can Hear The Signal


This week I get to share an interview with Lucinda Leo, who writes specifically about overexcitability. As people who experience the world more intensely than others, one of the things that can be especially challenging to navigate is the world of social media. 

In this time of social media overload, I keep coming back to Sean Achor's book "Before Happiness: the 5 hidden keys to achieving success, spreading happiness, and sustaining positive change. Specifically resonating with me lately has been his concept of "noise" vs. "signal." 

I highly suggest you go read that chapter as I can only skim the concept in a blog post, but here are his overarching definitions:

"Signal is information that is true and reliable and alerts you to the opportunities, possibilities, and resources that will help you reach your fullest potential."

"Noise is everything else: any information that is negative, false, or unnecessary or that prevents you from perceiving a world in which success is possible." He further defines noise as: "1) Unusable: Your behavior will not be altered by the information; 2) Untimely: You are not going to use that information imminently, and it could change by the time you do use it; 3) Hypothetical: It is based on what someone believes 'could be"' instead of 'what is;' and 4) Distracting: It distracts you from your goals."

As Achor says, "While noise can lead to a negative reality in which your potential is limited, a positive signal can help you create a more valuable reality, map paths to success, and accelerate you toward your goals."

So with all of the things going on in the world - how do we distinguish noise from signal and reduce the noise? Achor has a lot of suggestions in his book, but here are a few things I am trying to do myself:

Be more selective with when/where I spend my time online. This is a tough one because I don't want to create an "echo chamber" of people who think just like me, but at the same time I don't have the energy to engage with people who argue just for the sake of arguing without any attempt at empathy. This goes on both sides of the divide. I am highly appreciative of my friends who express differing opinions and can do it in a civil empathetic manner. Not only is this kinder, but it is more effective as people tend to either shut down or fight back when they feel on the defense. 

Find a few action items where I can make a difference. If I try to "fix" everything, or can't rest until everything is fine, I will make myself miserable for the rest of my life. There is always going to be some type of injustice in the world. I have a friend who sends me e-mails of "action items" that I can take immediately, and I appreciate it because it gives me something I can actively do.

Connect in real life.  Last Friday I spent the day with other entrepreneurs in a workshop by Danielle Ewalt on building a "Power Plan" for the year. I had missed the first one because of snow and I was afraid I'd miss that one due to ice. I was late, and had about 3 hours of traffic to get there and back but it was SO worth it. I realized that since I moved out to the country it has been easy to stay in my own little space and not deal with the outside world, but there is not replacement for connecting face to face with people. 

As I navigate the tense climate going on, I'm sure more things will come to me, but this is a good start for now. What helps you reduce noise so you can hear the signal?