“Rather than choose ‘all’ or ‘nothing,’ choose ‘a little something.’”
—Chip & Dan Heath – Decisive
Image from Amazon
It seems like it is necessary to “go big or go home” in order to get attention these days. The noise levels are so high that all in efforts are required to stand out.
How is this approach working for you or others in your personal and professional communities?
Growing up, my parents and grandparents believed that being loud and proud was not the path of a good life, and that humility and doing most things in moderation was the way to go.
Where in your life would taking the “a little something” approach be the wisest strategy to pursue? Where would finding a more moderate middle ground offer the right balance you may be seeking?
“For lack of attention, a thousand forms of loveliness elude us everyday.”
—Evelyn Underhill, 20th Century English writer and pacifist
Image from Unsplash by Chase Clark
I can still recall that I received an “E” in work habits in first grade at Creighton Elementary School in Philadelphia.
The exact words written by my teacher, Mrs. Gray were, “Barry has difficulty paying attention.”
Things must have improved a bit since I ended up with a “B” by the end of the year.
How is your level of focus and attention on your personal and professional priorities these days?
How engaged are you in your key relationships? Given the many distracting challenges facing all of us, what has your attention? To what degree are you fully observing the good and loveliness in the world?
Consider going back to the old game of Hide and Seek to focus on the many forms of loveliness all around. What approaches and strategies will you employ to not let them elude you?
“Stop watering things that were never meant to grow in your life. Water what works, what’s good, what’s right.”
—T.D. Jakes, American pastor, author and filmmaker
Image from Unsplash by Markus Spiske
Fast forward about two months to early spring. Go outside and take a look at your lawn and your flower beds. You are just about to turn on the automatic sprinklers and all outside hoses are ready to water the hard-to-reach areas.
You take a closer look at the state of these areas and see that the most robust growth seems to be mostly weeds. What do you do before flipping the switch?
Where are you currently watering the weeds in your life?
What gardening efforts are called for so that you have more of what works, what is good, and what is right growing and blossoming in your life?
“When you pay attention to boredom, it gets unbelievably interesting.”
—Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, scientist, writer, and meditation teacher
Image from Unsplash by Callie Morgan
Did you know that there are three types of boredom, each involving problems of engagement and attention? They are times when:
- We are prevented from engaging in desired activities
- We are forced to participate in unwanted activities
- We are simply unable – for whatever reason – to maintain our level of engagement in an activity
For some, boredom may be taken as the essential human condition to which God, Wisdom, or Morality are the ultimate answer. Many sources note that boredom can be a dangerous and disruptive state of mind that can negatively influence our health. Meanwhile, some research suggests that without boredom we could not realize many of our most creative achievements.
Where in your personal or professional life do you find yourself over-stimulated and even a bit addicted to the attention-grabbing objects and experiences around you?
Where would seeking more quiet and even boring moments in your life be a time for renewal and personal growth?
“By going out of your mind, you come to your senses.”
—Alan Watts, 20th Century British-American philosopher
Image from Unsplash by Zac Durant
Have you ever considered that going out of our minds was a good thing?
Not in the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest way, but in a quieting the inner voice/monkey mind way.
During a recent meditation session, the instructor led me through an exercise that focused on each of the five senses. With this shift of focus, I noticed a considerable reduction and even a few momentary stoppages of mental chatter and a greater sense of calm and presence.
Consider spending 60 seconds on each of your five senses. Make a note or two regarding what you perceived:
Where in your life would going out of your mind and coming to your senses have the greater benefit?
“When something small loudly demands all of our attention, its noise often drowns out the whisper of what’s enormously important.”
—Craig Groeschel, American Clergyman
Image from Unsplash by Sai de Silva
We live in a very noisy world. If you are like many folks these days, the decibel levels and shiny object distractions have reached new heights and the pace is accelerating exponentially.
Although there are extraordinary opportunities through the abundance of these worldly demands for our attention, we all require gaps in our days to recharge and renew.
Create two lists for your personal and professional life. Label the first list Important Whispers and the second Loud Demands.
What strategies can and will you employ to increase the time for items on the first, and reduce or perhaps eliminate items from the second?
“A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.”
Image from mujercountry.biz
Lombard Street in San Francisco claims to be “the crookedest street in the world,” with eight hairpin turns packed into a one-block section.
Life, for many of us, rarely takes a straight path. We are all faced with many bends in the road that require our full attention if we are to reach our destination.
If you happen to travel Lombard Street, you can, of course, travel at a slow and safe pace. If, however, you were a Grand Prix racer, which may correlate to the speed of life these days, what heightened diligence would each turn require?
Regardless of the speed of your life, what bends in the road are just ahead, requiring your fullest attention?
“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody.”
Who are the special people in your life who make you feel great just by being around them? Take a minute to investigate all of your personal and professional communities today, and even those in the past. Who are the special folks you look forward to seeing, with considerable anticipation and delight?
Now, what makes them so amazing? What unique qualities and super powers do they possess that are so magnetic and wonderful you can’t help but feel extra fantastic in their presence?
Among all the attributes you discovered, I bet one of them is that they focus most of their attention on those around them, and not on themselves.
How and where will you focus more of your daily efforts being somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody?
“The pause is as important as the note.”
—Truman Fisher, American Composer
Image from Flickr by Ben Rogers
Do you enjoy music? If so, what types of music do you prefer?
Prioritize this list from high to low based on your preferences:
Although the instruments used in these various forms of music can be different, it is perhaps the pauses, or rests, as much as the notes that are played that give each genre its own special sound.
Consider your life as a form of personal symphony. Where would paying even more attention to the pauses, to resting between your life notes enhance the melodies in your world?
“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”
When was the last time you sat down to watch TV, search the web, or venture into your inbox, then found that somehow, hours of your life were stolen?
Our frenetically-paced world has more time thieves than ever, and if we are not careful we can all fall victim to it.
Fortunately, more of us are becoming aware of these time heists, and are learning to set up our own security systems and keep the intruders at bay.
Today’s quote coaches us to exercise our own attention/mindfulness muscles and better allocate our time to more deserving pursuits.
One strategy I often pursue with my coaching clients is to create a time log or journal that tracks where time goes when it “flies.”