Why Your Attention Matters

5 MIN READ

Every day is about creating experiences which make life worth living. If you’re reading this instalment today, I daresay you and I have something incredibly important in common … We want the most out of life!

Many people say their health is their top priority, and of course, no-one could argue this is highly valuable … but for years now I’ve thought that time is my most precious resource. Lately, I’ve been reconsidering this; what if our attention is what matters most to leading a rich, rewarding life?

Don’t get me wrong … I value time highly. Once your time is spent, it can never be gained back. With your time you invest in the things you hold most dear. You spend time with your loved ones, time building your business, and (hopefully) time caring for yourself. If you’re really honest with yourself you can evaluate what is most important to you by examining how you use your time. You might like to think that your well-being is vitally important to you, or your finances, or your family. However, if you haven’t given these things enough time, you will inevitably start to feel the effects. Over time, a lack of investment into those pillars of success will usher in a reality check.

“You become what you give your attention to.”
Epictetus, The Art of Living

These things are all true, but I am not sure they really target the heart of the matter.

In managing rapidly shifting landscapes across multiple fronts, my reflections have lead me to a new perspective. My clients are looking for more straight forward methods of service delivery lately, which has caused me to look at new business models. My family life is moving into different seasons which has brought new approaches into focus. My body is not as young as it used to be, and I’m making the achievement of my goal to run a half marathon a top priority.

You have unique things which consume your thoughts, and your time. You move through shifting seasons constantly learning, adjusting and maneuvering to navigate your days. You make decisions which have the power to change your circumstances and create new outcomes. But all of these don’t “just happen.”

Whether you consider the state of your health, relationships, business, lifestyle, finances, or any other important aspect of life, one thing remains constant. It is your attention which drives your thoughts, behaviours, feelings and results. Take a look at your calendar … your attention drives your schedule! Here are three ways I have found this to be particularly true for business leaders in pursuit of success.

What you see is what you know

You might sit next to your partner on a bright sunshiny day and take in the same view across a grassy parkland. You can both see the same things, but your attention is very different. As a result of that experience, one might come to know that cycling has become increasingly popular of late. They will see cyclists pedalling by, and they will develop a theory about that. Then, as they see more, their theory will be reinforced. It will remind them that they read about this in the news last week. And they will come to know that truth for themselves.

The other will see just how many children are out of schools that have been temporarily closed. They will see children out and about, then they will look for more. They will remember their nephew is homeschooling with their sister, and their evolving knowledge about the effects of closing schools down will be reinforced.

You come to know what you pay attention to. Knowledge can’t be gained any other way.

The only knowledge you will ever possess is that which you have learned. You can only know what you have paid attention to. The internet is full of knowledge that you will never access, and your friends have knowledge you will never share. Your thoughts, beliefs and outlook all stem from what you have been paying attention to.

 

What you see is what you feel

We got stuck in a lift the other day. We needed to get from the Level 2 shops to the Level 1 carpark. Social distancing restrictions meant we couldn’t share the lift with any other shoppers, so we walked our trolley in, pressed the Level 1 button with our knuckle, and watched the doors close. The people on Level 3 had already pressed the button to direct the lift upwards, so we took a ride that way. We awkwardly watched the lift doors open and saw the Level 3 people waiting for access. But all of us knew we couldn’t share the lift, so the doors closed, and we headed downwards. Unfortunately, we only got as far as Level 2 before those lift doors opened again to the people there. They had pressed the button to bring us back. We bounced between Level 2 and Level 3 not once, twice or three times, but FOUR times! Every time the door opened at each level the line of people queueing got longer. And we got more and more embarrassed.

My fiance was good-natured about it as he went into fix-it mode. He saw a social problem that desperately needed solving, and his attention was firmly on doing just that.

My son and I, on the other hand, were in hysterics. We saw how truly absurd the problem was and we were bedside ourselves. I had tears streaming down my face. It was sheer bliss to focus my attention on the hilarity of it all.

Your emotions come from what you pay attention to. Feelings can’t be accessed any other way.

 

What you see is what you get

2019 was a personally challenging year for me. I’d made some poor business decisions which lead to some aspects of my work screaming for closure. My health and fitness goals had been undermined several times by sickness. My tiny apartment increasingly felt like a shrinking shoebox, and I’d worked myself into a tightly wound ball of stress. Every day looked at the mess I had created with hopelessness. I didn’t turn my attention to the resources I did have for business building, the parks I had nearby, or the gym I had just down the road. And I didn’t really savour the loving relationships I enjoyed, the health I had, or my opportunities to create new business outcomes. I was miserable because I paid attention to the lack, rather than my wealth.

Then in December, we moved house. I decided to shift my attention and the results have been truly transformational. I started to focus on my power to change my financial situation. I saw my ability to create a fresh start in business, and I loved taking in the parks and gym nearby. My despair was replaced with hopeful optimism because I started seeing what was there in a new way. This opened new possibilities.

In short, I chose to focus on gratitude and I dedicated myself to progressive improvement. I let go of the gigantic goals that I’d fallen short of in 2019, choosing instead to pay attention to incremental gains. I’m slowly building more success into my business and finances, my health and wellness and my relationships. I’m losing weight, building strength and creating winning business outcomes.

Your outcomes arise from what you pay attention to. New starts and fulfilling results can’t be achieved any other way.

 

The most exciting part about all of this is the power we have to transform our lives by shifting our focus. Do you have goals you are trying to achieve? Knowledge you’d like to acquire? Changes you want to create? Set your sights on paying attention. Be present to seeing the pathway towards those outcomes. Look out for ways to make your attention serve your highest self and lead you to profound fulfilment.