“Skulls up!” In Baghdad, these words produced an immediate effect among the troops in our unit. The intent was clear. Watch out. Take stock of your surroundings. Be alert. Those words warned us of potential threats, as well as opportunities.
The same principle applies here at home. In fact, this month we recognize the character trait of “alertness” for that reason. Alertness is “being aware of what is taking place around me so I can respond appropriately.”
Whether in Iraq or Oklahoma, we must be aware – we must be in the present. That involves putting away our cell phones and other distractions and looking around . . . no small task in an age of distractions! But when we fence off distractions (whether Candy Crush, Facebook, or the latest scores), we find more time to focus on what’s important. Family and friends. Coworkers and our community.
Alertness allows us to better detect subtle changes in our surroundings that may otherwise go unnoticed. As a dad with young kids, I think of them when this topic comes up. Are there little cues I can pick up on as we spend time together? If so, how can I best approach them and address the situation? Distractions could easily drown this process out, which is why alertness is so important.
Starting this month, pause and consider what distractions you can purge from your routine. Take that time and energy, and thoughtfully consider your surroundings. You may just discover some simple challenges you can help mitigate, as well as opportunities for yourself and others to thrive. Such steps will no doubt bless our families, workplaces, churches and community.