Paying attention to your attention
So, notice…where’s your attention right now? Are you thinking about the past? What happened at work yesterday, last week or last month? Are you thinking about the present and fully absorbed in what you’re reading? Perhaps you’re noticing your breathing or the temperature of the room? Or, are you thinking about the day ahead? What do you need to get done, where you need to be and who you need to talk to?
If you were to map out how your focus is divided, what would it look like?
Now, looking at how your focus is divided ask yourself whether it’s the best use of your energy?
Perhaps you’re a leader, having a one on one conversation with someone in your team. For you, the most important focus, is on the present, right now! If you’re focusing on what you need to get done, or where you need to be next, then you’re wasting your time and theirs. It’s the quickest way to erode their trust and confidence in you as their leader. When you’re not fully present (i.e. distraction free) it’s impossible to listen for understanding, Instead, you may simply hear the headlines then make assumptions based on your own perspective. You’ll end up giving a response that often misses the mark or is completely out of touch with what the other person is expecting.
For me I used to be fixated on the future, always moving towards what I wanted, my goals, my dreams, the excitement that lay ahead. What I found was that constant focus on the future lead to burnout and a feeling of exhaustion because I never got there. Each time I would achieve something I’d quickly put up a new goal and fixate on achieving that – I never gave myself the opportunity to be present and enjoy each moment. The same thing would happen in conversations and interactions, I’d be quick to come to my own conclusions and become really impatient if things took longer than I expected!
For me, it isn’t about stopping the focus I have on the future, it is more about finding the balance that works. And when thinking about the right balance I can’t help but be guided by an expert. Eckhart Tolle is, in my opinion, the guru of being present, he says that…
“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment grievances, sadness, bitterness and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough present.”
The message is clear, whenever you sense your energy flowing to a negative place always come back to the present moment. Think about what you want to achieve and consider where and how you might adjust your focus – remembering that you might simply want to be more present!
If you can create discipline around where you focus then the time you invest in yourself and your people will be so much more beneficial. You will gain greater control over your performance, have clarity to make better decisions and you’ll just feel better.
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