A joke my father once brought home on a little poster from his office said:
"Keep your eye on the ball, your shoulder to the wheel and your ear to the ground - now try to work in that position!"
It comes to mind amid further news of the Japan quake and nuclear aftermath, Libyan fly-overs and Yemeni revolution. Oh, and the US Congress is struggling to address entitlement reform as our fiscal balance spins further out of control, and...
As much news as there is in the world demanding our attention, our lives are still immediately in front of us - children to raise (my 12-yer-old son needs a guitar teacher), relationships to tend (tend them, keep them happy; get over that one, find another), and the logistics of daily life (someone just hit the car!).
And just yesterday a potential Florida client who owns newspaper properties pointed out that all the information on the Internet, as alluring as it may be, doesn't necessarily contain the answer or insight you need, if you can find it. Along the way you will spend time you probably don't have being distracted by things that don't matter - or are simply wrong.
All of this served to remind me of a principle that sailing in rough conditions taught me: when things get ugly, slow down and do the right next thing right.
It is simple enough to say, and not as hard to do as one might think. It means bringing the far horizon near, and focusing the mind, eye, hand and attention on the thing at hand that must be done next, and right, before the next right thing can be addressed.
This has the effect of slowing down a turbulent situation and clearing away distractions that at a distance may loom as threatening or out of control - or both.
The good news is that there is always a "next thing" that has to be done right, and doing it right is worth all of one's attention, particularly if errors will be costly (even dangerous).
Slow down and live, you might say.