Befriending the Red Herring


A friend of  mine recently wondered if there was actually such a thing as a red herring, and  did a Google  image search to see one. What he turned up first was the painting you see  here, Befriending the Red Herring by L. Kelen. He was so entranced and  amused by the whimsey that he promptly purchased it. I don't know what the  artist intended, but think the image makes a great point. Have you befriended  any red herrings lately?

In case  you're not familiar with the term, a red herring is something that lures you  away from the correct path -- a deliberate distraction or misleading  information. The idea comes from fox hunting, when smoked herring was dragged  across the fox's trail to confuse the hounds. The image of a boy hugging a false  trail bemused me, and I immediately thought it applied well to my own life, and  to coaching. Are you prone to embrace your distractions sometimes? I can  remember a year ago when I was chewing on a heavy question and wildly casting  about for answers. I chatted with a friend about it, and when I mentioned a  particularly far-fetched (but oh-so- easy) idea, she latched onto it and dug in,  making me look at it from all angles. She had me almost convinced that I was a  fool for not jumping on it. However, it just plain felt wrong, and I knew it was  a real regression, not progress -- a true red herring. The easyness of it  distracted both of us for awhile, and yes I tried to befriend the idea. After  hanging up the phone, I realized that tempting though it was, it was a pure  distraction and didn't really solve my problem, only sidelined it.

You grabbing  onto any red herrings lately? You know they're taking you away from a better  answer or truly important goal, but you give them time, attention, and  importance. You successfully sideline yourself from the real game. It's easy to  do, but once you realize you're holding a cold, wet, and smelly fish ... throw  it back! Things might not seem easy, but they will get clearer.