We are all supposed to “pay attention”. And indeed it does cost us something.
We do “pay” for being attentive. But why are we to be attentive? And how are we to do this? And what does being attentive do for a leader? Let’s explore a few of these questions for a moment.
There is a popular saying that bears repeating here: “Take time to stop and smell the roses.” But sometimes we are so busy, distracted, and inattentive that we don’t see the roses or realize that there is actually time to smell them. Paying attention is vital to enjoying life, being productive, building healthy relationships and truly living an abundant life.
So how do we pay attention?
What habits and practices can we incorporate into our lives in order that we might be more attentive?
I would assert that to pay attention we must create margin and space in our lives. Without sufficient time and space we will be distracted and overwhelmed by all that is before us. Like the old saying, if we aren’t careful we might “miss the forest for the trees”. In other words if our lives are too full and too busy and too cluttered then we will have a very difficult time paying attention and will miss the things in front of us.
I would suggest that in order to pay attention we must learn to slow down. This has much to do with margin (not doing too much) but it also means not going too fast. The tortoise and the hare give us a great example of how we can slow down, enjoy the journey and still get to the finish line on time. If you have ever driven through a city or park and then gone back and walked through that same city or park, then you know how many more things catch your eye when you journey at a slower pace.
I believe that in order to pay attention we must learn to be where we are. So often we allow our mind to wander to some place near or far, past or present, but not actually be engaged where we are. If you are with someone, be with them. If you are in a certain place, be there. How terrible it would be to miss the most important thing because our mind and attention wandered to someone, something, someplace other than what we presently have before us for our learning and enjoyment.
Lastly, I would throw out these 6 rapid-fire ideas to help you pay attention:
- Stop multi-tasking — it doesn’t work
- Don’t make yourself available to everyone at the same time
- Take care of your body and mind through right eating, sleeping and exercise
- Look people in the eye
- Put away technology and only use it when necessary
- Practice active listening
I am sure there are many other tips and tools that will help us to be more attentive but what is most important is that we are indeed attentive to the tasks, journey and people before us and not wake up one day and realize we missed it all!