Pay attention to your attention – why you need to spend that precious resource with care

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Working on your skills to become a thoughtful, informed observer of yourself and those around you not only supports your development as a leader but, to be honest, helps you in life as a whole. Armed with real awareness, you can learn to listen and look without threatened ears and eyes, choose how you respond and recognise the skills you need to work on.

But in our busy work and home lives, it can sometimes seem a struggle just to get through everything on the To Do list, let alone find the energy and headspace to stop and focus on ourselves for once. Yet, by taking small steps to see where our attention goes, we can start to train our minds to pay attention to what is really important and nourishing for us, building our awareness and fuelling us to make the impact we want.

World of distractions

Our brains are geared up to be distracted and it’s all too easy for minds to wander. Everyone and everything is fighting for your attention – from clickbait that has us doom-scrolling and ads shouting at us to buy stuff to day-to-day family and work demands.

But attention is a limited, precious resource. Brains don’t multi task. We start again when we are interrupted or interrupt ourselves with an alert or a dip into our phones.

Paying attention to the wrong things costs us. It costs us in time and energy, and in lost opportunities with the people and things that we don’t pay attention to. Click To Tweet

Paying attention to the wrong things (our negativity bias can have us addicted to the bad) drains us dry.  But we can choose where we shine our attention spotlight.

Attention audit

What you pay attention to will define your life because it will feed your priorities, determine how people experience you and fuel your resilience. We don’t say pay attention for nothing.  It costs us. So we need to be careful not to spend it recklessly.  But in today’s attention economy, your attention can be pulled here, there and everywhere. Do you really know what you are spending your attention on?

For the next few days, just notice and jot down what you are paying attention to in an average hour. Be honest. Is it your social media feed? What others are doing or achieving? What you don’t have or did poorly? Looping again and again over certain worries or preoccupations?

At work, notice in a meeting what are you thinking about. Is it the power dynamic in the room, the relationship dynamic, what you will cook for dinner, rehearsing what you want to say, or looking out the window?

Take a moment to think if this is really what you want to be spending your precious attention on and how well it serves you and those around you.

Put your energy into what matters

Where your attention goes, your energy flows – so direct your energy on what nourishes, inspires and develops you. Click To Tweet

Pay attention to yourself and others, to the work terrain you’re navigating and the skills you need to develop and practise to make the progress and impact you want. Putting the attention spotlight on yourself can be uncomfortable but it is how we learn about what we need to develop as effective leaders and to flourish in our lives.

Remember, you get to choose your settings, controlling your attention and becoming more able to place it where youwant it and keep it there is a skill that will fuel your leadership career.

As always thanks for reading this and sharing it. Feel free to read more on my blog page.

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