As you sit in a team meeting or an endless lecture in an auditorium-style classroom and try to pay attention, you first color in the corner of your paper, then another corner. Then it happens. You hear something interesting and your mind is off to the races. If you have a chance, you speak up. That one point made you think of something you read on that website you randomly found last weekend. As you explain the connection, you see blank stares. You're taking the whole group down a rabbit hole. You're on a tangent.

You are sidetracked and that can be a very good thing. 

A sidetrack is anything that temporary distracts you from the usual and leads to unexpected and positive results by exposing your mind to a new topic, concept, or idea. This can happen on the baseball diamond, in a kayak, in a book, at the top of a mountain or anywhere else that gets you thinking in a new way.


Exhibit A

Lana is a dedicated HR professional who has worked her way up the corporate ladder and excelled in every position she has had. People seek her out for her work ethic, trouble-shooting abilities and analytical reasoning. This is all fine and good, but it's not the whole story.

Lana is also a painter whose work currently sits somewhere between the back of her mind and the easel in her spare bedroom. Every once in a while, she sets aside a Friday night to add a bit more paint to this painting or that. She gets lost in this work and wishes she'd do it more often.

She needs a sidetrack.

Exhibit B

Kris, Sam, Brad, Whitley and Charlie are all members of a specialized project team who just wrapped up a monster of a project in record time. They have a two week break to catch up on other things before they'll be diving into the next big make it or break it rescue of another failed campaign. They're worn out and swimming in inboxes that could drown even the most efficient penpal. As they look around the office and see everyone else tied to their computers, they know that this deluge won't do much for recharging them to excel in their next project.

They need a sidetrack.



Exhibit C

Jerome is a successful thirty-something small business owner who hasn't missed a goal in two years and his team loves working with him. Sounds a little unrealistic, right?

There are times when he feels the effects of a demanding schedule and being the face of the organization. Sometimes things don't go exactly right. People get upset. Jerome wonders what to do next. He and everyone on his team is human.

When a new product starts to fall behind schedule or a major customer needs something Jerome and his team haven't done before, they know what to do.

They get sidetracked.