Byron's Babbles

Tending To Your Experience

On Kentucky Lake

Yesterday my son and I spent the day on Kentucky Lake fishing. It was incredible to be on the lake together enjoying this beautiful part of the world. We were very successful catching 16 Crappie, a Blue Gill, and a Yellow Bass. I was then multi-species angler of the team. Besides the multitude of subjects we discussed on this brisk and sunny day, it was when we were cleaning the fish that we got into a deep philosophical discussion. We were watching a little girl throw bread crumbs to the seagulls. The birds were so busy competing and paying attention to what each other was getting, that they were missing bread. Sound familiar?

Heath and I discussed how we can get so caught up in paying attention to what others have, the contracts others are getting, or what others are doing that we miss out on great opportunities (bread crumbs) right in front of us. Hopefully you caught the metaphor thing I did right there. William James argued, “My experience is what I agree to attend to.” He wrote this in 1890 in The Principles of Psychology, Vol.1. Think about it: what we pay attention to determines the experiences we have, and those experiences determine the success and significance in the life we live.

Now I am not suggesting that we bury our head in the sand. I am a huge believer in having a competitive advantage, but we must stay focused on our own experience. What are the bread crumbs available others are missing? Where are the bread crumbs we want? We need to beware of going after the bread crumbs others already have. Don’t worry about what brand of vehicle someone else drives, or what label is sewn on their purse (you ever thought about how stupid that is?), or the billion other things we use to compete. Those are all vanity.

So, remember it’s about substance over form. In our society today it is very easy to become focused on appearances both physical and attitudinal, because we are constantly subjected to the temptation of developing a public persona stoked by vanity. Remember, to have a competitive advantage we need to be aware of the competition, but not obsessed. I compare all the people on social media like a flock of seagulls all so focused on the bread crumb that the other seagull has they miss the one right in front of them. Find your bread crumb and go after it; don’t let anyone else distract you from getting it. It is your experience, no one else’s.