Signals & noise
Noise is noise. It disturbs us and takes our attention away from the vital work we do. It offers no value; it takes more than it gives and doesn't ask for permission.
Is there a difference?
Noise is noise. It disturbs us and takes our attention away from the vital work we do. It offers no value; it takes more than it gives and doesn't ask for permission. It does so constantly, without remorse. It's all around us, in physical and digital form.
Signals notify us, inform us, and nudge us about something important, something useful. They offer helpful information and help us make better decisions.
An adequately timed signal can save a life. And yet, a poorly chosen one can be detrimental.
The singing birds.
The icy road.
The baby’s cries.
The smoke detector’s ring.
The billboard advertisement.
The email notification.
The phone’s ringer.
The Slack notification.
The number of followers.
The conversation spreading misinformation.
The news on TV.
The Facebook feed.
Our values, beliefs and goals sit behind what we define as signal or noise. When one changes, so do the signals we pay attention to.
If we believe that we’ll be seen as a failure if we don’t meet a project deadline, we might refuse to listen to our tiring bodies as we put in more hours.
Suppose the business goal is to beat the competition at all costs. In that case, the signals it pays attention to are much different than if the goal is to grow the business while maintaining the wellbeing of its people.
A mistake is giving our attention to too many signals. Much like when everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. If everything is a signal, nothing is a signal; it's all noise.
And yet, we don’t need to strive to have little or no signals. It’s about being deliberate about the ones we give our attention to and truly need, as well as shielding ourselves from the noise that doesn’t contribute positively to our lives.
It pays to reflect on what gets our attention and reject the noise, especially those disguised as signals. What signals have become noise?
Is a constantly buzzing phone with social and news feed notifications contributing to our ability to be present with our family? Is Slack pulling us out of our deep flow when someone presses that enter key, impacting our productivity?
It can be that we think we can’t live without some signals. We might also be too afraid of what we might feel if those signals and noises aren’t there to keep us busy.
Sparknotion – Think Differently.