How to dig into your goldmine that is called Paying Attention
Why is it so difficult to pay attention to something or somebody or yourself?
I am standing in a traditional Japanese training hall (Dojo), next to the Meiji Shrine in a park in the middle of Tokyo. You couldn’t wish for a more beautiful and traditional place to practice Japanese Archery (Kyudo). Slooooowly lifting the bow in front of me, placing the arrow, turning head and eyes on the target 28 meter to my left, moving the bow to the left, drawing the bow, holding, breathing…and, let go.
Doesn’t this sound like the best method to practice paying attention?
My practice was ages ago and at the time I felt far away from being the master of my attention.
Attention is a powerful resource that we own to live a meaningful life, to get stuff done and to create conscious businesses.
Why attention and what does it mean?
Attention means on one side to be able to select from our daily massive number of tasks and obligations, focus on just the selected ones, ignore the rest and cut out the distractions. That way we can be efficient and productive, given that we are all in the same boat with a daily set of 24 hours at our disposal.
Attention also means to give your attention to a person and truly listen to him/her, you gift time, show respect. Imagine you spend conscious time with your child, spouse or friend — how much value does this add to your life? If you really listen to your colleague or client with the intention to learn and to understand — how much improvement does this add to your work or business?
We actually have an inherent goldmine. A valuable attention potential that resides within us. And too often we are not aware that attention is such a powerful skill that helps us to take charge of our lives.
I see attention as a core competence of the 21st century and believe we can use our attention potential to build better lives and businesses.
A bird’s eye view on your life
We easily take attention for granted. It is somehow there. We like to get distracted and if somebody or something wants our attention, we grant it. We consider it an infinite source. It’s not! It is very much limited which makes it valuable. And if we consciously use our attention, it’s actually very arduous.
Now, imagine you are at the end of your life and evaluate how much conscious attention you have given to which people and things along the way?
How do you feel about the time you spent with your loved ones? Don’t measure time in numbers, but the time you were present in the moment and consciously with them?
What makes you rather feel satisfied and fulfilled: having given your attention to your customers and employees and really listen and be respectful to gain their trust or having paid your attention to your stakeholders to increase their profit?
How can we live and work with conscious attention?
To flourish and strive, we want to master our attention. And that’s a big challenge.
You get in your own way
Here are some of the obstacles on the way to master your attention.
As we know, it is never your fault if something goes wrong. When you have difficulties to stay focused and to pay attention, it is because of all the others out there who are fighting for your attention and want to distract you. The media, advertising, social media platforms, news streams, YouTube — they all want part of your goldmine. Be aware of the attention-thieves!
We can’t see or touch it, but resistance is the invisible force whose job it is to keep you from getting stuff done and sending your attention anywhere but not where it should be. Resistance attacks your attention and you surrender easily. Resistance collaborates with noisy distractions and logical excuses. Resistance doesn’t like it when you fight back and send the invisible force to hell. Can you do it?
You’ve 90 minutes before heading out to your appointment. Would you like to spend it with your child playing and bonding and abandon the soccer game for that or, vice versa? What will be a valuable memory? You decide. You might get away with half ass paying attention to your kid and miss the happy smiles it gives you because your eyes were on the goal. Or you watch with one eye the game but miss that amazing goal because your kid’s laughter distracted you. What will stay as a valuable memory with you? Probably none of the above, unless you sacrifice one event for the other and give your full attention to your choice.
Ask yourself tough questions
How can you get better in paying attention?
Here are 3 tools for a starter:
Ask yourself: Are you an introvert or extrovert?
None of us is just one or the other. But if you make the effort to reflect and become aware of the characteristics of the two types, you can better understand how to take advantage of your attention potential.
Understanding that being a good listener, thinking before speaking, noticing things that may escape others are typical traits of an introvert, helps me to work on my ability to pay attention and dig into my goldmine. Extroverts can concentrate in stimulating environments, seek attention and social interaction and are easily bored. They can use this to their advantage when it comes to navigating their attention potential congruent with their temperament.
Ask yourself: What are your values?
If you know your values and have the desire to align your actions and decisions with them, you will more likely use your attention potential to live up to your higher claim.
Ask yourself: What is your One thing?
What is the ONE thing you may want to pay attention to in your daily actions that brings you closer to your goal, to the execution of your idea, or to the connection you want to make? Being aware of your next main action step and why it is important helps you to tap into your attention potential.
Take control of your attention and it will lead you to taking control of your life.
Discover a skill you carry in your soul
I discovered a powerful capacity and it is entirely up to me to decide who or what I pay attention to. As a result, I can build a better live and business. It is a work in progress. If you master your attention, you get stuff done, contribute to a mindful work environment, you build meaningful relationships, and live a fulfilled life.
If you have the ability to pay attention it is a key to excellence, in both your personal and your professional life. And this ability is not an innate quality bestowed upon just some people. It can be achieved by all but requires intentional practice.
The Kyudo master in Paulo Coelho’s book The Archer says: “A master is not the one who teaches something, but someone who encourages his student to do his best to discover a knowledge that he already carries in his soul.”
I am not a master, but I like to encourage you to discover your attention potential within you, it is like a super power. And it is your choice if you put it to use or not.
Claudia Brose is a business professional working at the intersection of conscious attention and business.
As founder of Master Your Attention she inspires and educates about how can we use our attention potential to build better lives and businesses.
Claudia sees ATTENTION as a core competence of the 21st century.
Master Your Attention | www.claudiabrose.com