I believe that one of the biggest challenges that faces modern society is “noise.” I don’t just mean the kind of noise that you get in a coffee shop, an office or any public place … although that is part of the problem! What I mean by noise is the continual stream of inputs that compete for or attention and destroy our ability to focus.
Now, there has always been distractions to getting stuff done. TV, radio, telephone calls, newspapers and books and much more. However, the sheer volume of input clamoring for our attention has grown and grown in recent years. As a result, we have become more consumers of data than processors of information and users of knowledge. This continual, ever growing, ever louder stream of data has left many of us unable to hear the important messages over the clutter.
The idea for this system started with a simple throw-away comment. I used to work for Boy Scouts and one day I was making a presentation to a group of about 150 mechanics, sales staff and administrators for a local auto dealership. As I started, I recited the Boy Scout Oath. The oath begins “On my honor” and concludes with the promise, among other things, to keep oneself mentally awake. At the end of the presentation, a senior manager with the dealership came up to me and said “You know Mark, I haven’t thought about the Scout Oath for years. As you spoke, I kept thinking about two words. There are just too many people in society today who are not mentally awake”.
The comment hit me; I totally understood and agreed with what he was saying. Over the days and weeks and months that followed, I couldn’t get the thought out of my head. I came to realize that it’s not so much that people are asleep … more that the volume of input we deal with creates a lack of awareness. We tune out so much to protect our ourselves from being overwhelmed that we are not awake to the important messages we need to hear. That realization started me on a journey to research these issues and break free from the overwhelming noise of inputs competing for my attention. The result of that journey is the Mentally Awake system.