How to lead in a world of distraction

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September 12, 2019

How to lead in a world of distraction


Clay Scroggins is back on the podcast with some fresh insights from his brand new book, How to Lead in a World of Distraction.

In an open and vulnerable interview, Clay talks about how the pressures of leadership led to him missing some of the signs of emotional ill-health, breaking down in his boss’s office, and finding quiet and healing in a noisy world. And if you think this is just theory, Clay is learning all this while leading a church of over 9,000, nurturing his marriage, and parenting five kids under the age of ten.

Welcome to Episode 292 of the podcast. Listen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.


1. We use distraction and “noise” to avoid fear and pain

People use distractions today similarly to how we use a white noise machine for sleep. We use distractions to drown out the things that we don’t want to hear or think about. Whether it’s fear about the future, mistakes that still haunt us, or delayed work decisions, we all are tempted to avoid something.

This temptation makes sense. It is much easier to listen to three more podcasts or workout for two more hours rather than deal with the hurt, anxiety, and fears that we are all avoiding. This has been made much easier with the rise of technology. Now, we have a distraction machine in our pockets that holds more entertainment than we could consume in 30 lifetimes. As leaders, we need to resist this temptation.


2. Your emotions are messengers—don’t drown them out

Your emotions are messengers. They’re trying to tell you something. That’s the whole point of them. When you’re feeling lonely, angry, or jealous, your body is trying to say something to you. We can get away with just “turning up the noise and distractions” of life for a while, but eventually our emotions will boil out of us.

Clay saw this recently in his own leadership. He went through a season where his team saw data points that showed that they weren’t accomplishing what they wanted to accomplish. As this was going on, he ignored his emotions and turned up the distractions until he broke down in front of his boss in a meeting. He then realized that he needed to listen to his emotions.

3. 4 major habits for turning down the noise

  • Learning to Get Quiet: When you get quiet, you open the door for God to speak and for you to actually listen.
  • Speaking to Yourself: Memorizing and repeating scripture to yourself is critical for turning down the noise.
  • Finding Your Why: A huge part of this is getting underneath your stuff and asking, “Why am I doing that? Why is that there?”
  • Pressing Pause: This puts us in the proper position to realize that the world goes on without us at work. This keeps us humble and from being overwhelmed.


Great leaders turn down the noise low enough, and long enough, to be ruthlessly curious of their emotions. @clayscrogginsCLICK TO TWEET

Spiritual disciplines, in and of themselves, they are practices of turning down the noise. @clayscrogginsCLICK TO TWEET

The thing that is standing in between you now and a better you is whatever emotional disturbance that you’re feeling, that you’re not paying attention to.” @clayscrogginsCLICK TO TWEET

You can’t care for others well if you’re not caring for yourself.” @clayscrogginsCLICK TO TWEET

If more is your standard, you have a problem, because there’s no end to more.” @cnieuwhofCLICK TO TWEET

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