Paying Attention to Attention
Last week we looked at how dynamic knowledge of our own behaviours – drivers and motivators – can give us the edge in terms of our development as great leaders and managers. I included a simple tool in that post – watching where our attention wanders during the day and also how it wanders. Where our emotions are at. Patterns of behaviour (both positive and negative).
Attention and Emotional Shifts
To build on that simple exercise, here is an extension that will help you notice and understand the reasons behind the attention shifts and emotional shifts that occur during each day. As with anything, once we understand, once the reasons are understood, it is much easier to take decision and make modifications.
The first step is really quite simple, but difficult to implement because it requires willpower – you know that thing that we talk about a lot but that can often be in short supply! However, those that can find the willpower to commit to this step and maintain it every day (at least every working day) differentiate themselves from the others. This practice will bring more energy, vibrancy, insight and focus into daily life and will begin producing results within a short time.
The aim is to understand ourselves, our behaviours and our drivers much better and to modify ourselves, particularly our reactions, to produce better results easier.
Every Day …
Every day allocate 15 minutes to Self Reflection. That’s it! But it is focused Self Reflection. Find a quiet time and quiet place. To do this you may have to get up 15 minutes before the rest of the family, or arrive at work 15 minutes before everyone else, or take a break in the middle of the day to a local park or even coffee shop. Buy a notebook that you will use for these sessions. Agree with yourself that your Self Reflection and Self Inquiry will be with compassion – that is, you will be an observer of your behaviour without judgement.
In your self reflection, imagine that you are a wise person noticing your own behaviour, making notes and objectively knowing what aspects of your behaviour are working for you and which are not. This wise person is not judging, just observing.
The wise person can ask questions. How is my communication ability? How can it improve? Why am I so abrupt in these circumstances? Is it driven by fear or an anger? If anger, why am I angry? And so on… Stay focused, don’t let your attention wander from the topic at hand. It will want to wander – what is my 9am appointment? Am I prepared for that presentation? Bring your attention back. Tell it you will think about those things when the 15 minutes is up, but right now is YOUR time and you are working on your communication skills.
You can seek your strengths. How is my strategic ability? Do I use it to its full potential? Are there other ways that I can use this strength? You can notice patterns of behaviour. Whenever I feel let down by someone I feel angry. Why do I feel angry? Why do I feel personally let down? What would be a better way of approaching those situations? How do I try this? When am I at peak performance? What are the things that influence that? How do I build those things into my day more often? Each and every day? And so forth – every working day.
At the end of your session, make some very brief notes as a reminder and a record of your journey. “Focused on communication today. Realised that I can be overly abrupt. Tomorrow will focus on mechanisms to modify communication approach. Been building on strategic ability at work – Fred commented that he noticed my increasing input.”
That is the essence of this step. Do you have the courage to put it into practice? Let me know how it goes. The first 3 or 4 weeks may be tough going, but as you persevere, you will begin to see the benefits.
Can we help?
If you would like us to help you understand these approaches, give us a call.
Indra Process and Performance Consulting
All articles that appear on Indra Process and Performance Consulting’s blog are copyright Indra Process and Performance Consulting 2008.
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