„I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free“, said Michelangelo.
He was clear about what he wanted to create, he saw it, so he could carve away all the unnecessary stuff.
To be able to remove obstacles and constraints we first need to be clear about what the essential is. What is our desired outcome?
What’s the angel?
For me, it's basically about the idea that if we work and live with conscious attention, we can create a work-life-style that is fulfilling and successful.
And if I we want to look even further behind the concept of living and working with attention, we uncover a deeper insight – paying attention is really about TIME and CURIOSITY.
Attention - What it’s not about?
What did I get rid of in order to get to the essence of attention? And what did I chip of even more, to see the very core of paying attention: time and curiosity?
Attention as a currency
Those who shout the loudest are the heroes on our global stage. Right? We want to attract attention for more visibility in the market. Attention is treated like a currency, the more attention you get (followers?), the higher your value.
In other words, I grab (or steal) the attention of the others to draw their attention to me.
I omit this interpretation of attention.
Attention as commodity
Since some years we are facing the phenomenon of an attention economy. By the information and marketing world our attention is seen as a commodity that is constantly being stolen from us and being “sold”. The media, advertising industry and social platforms compete for our attention with ads and offers in order to earn money through clicks and tricks.
There is a real war going on for our scarce resource: our capability to pay attention. I become the victim of the market, letting my attention pulled away from me.
There is no need to be the victim of the attention economy.
Attention as a productivity tool
Attention can be considered as a productivity tool. We can see in many workplaces that exercises in mindfulness have become the new thing.
Developing a mindful sense of self in order to reduce stress and become more resilient is absolutely important. Especially considering the problems we face today such as burnout and mental health issues.
However, this holds only true as long as this is not misinterpreted by companies as a new productivity tool with which they can increase the working hours and performance of their people.
Attention as an infinite resource
Our innate capability to pay attention is often seen as an infinite resource that anyone can help themselves to. Your Boss, colleague, competitor, customer, partner and children at home, neighbors and strangers in everyday life, all try to get a piece of your attention.
If we don't set any limits, we surrender our attention be taken from us without any control.
Lack of attention – TAKING instead of giving
In order to be able to cherish attention as a valuable potential for shaping our work life and daily life, I cut out the concepts of attention that lead to a “lack of attention”.
Scarcity arises when we try to take other people's attention and draw attention to ourselves in order to be in the spotlight.
Or, the lack of attention occurs when others suck up our attention and we stay passive and let it happen thoughtlessly. We give up control over our valuable potential.
Why do we allow the flood of information and constant stress distract us from the really important things?
Our lack of attention reveals itself, for example, when we repeat our daily mantra “I don't have time!” We can’t help but telling this over and over again to important customers, colleagues or to our children.
We are great in creating a daily lack of attention.
Attention – What is it about?
Attention is about removing to bring forth more.
What creates a lack of attention I chisel away to get to the angel in the marble: Give your undivided attention to the things that are most important to you.
What if we could look at attention as something to give in abundance instead of creating a lack of it?
Abundance of attention – GIVING instead of taking
First give, then receive. Who gives, will be rewarded. He who sows, reaps.
For me, the essence of how we want to combine work and life in the future comes down to paying attention, giving attention to the very things that are precious. That is, we are in control of our potential for giving attention. We determine who or what we pay attention to and for what reason.
When we pay attention to people, we get attentive behavior back.
If we truly pay attention to the customer or audience and try to understand their needs and problems, then they will give us their attention, their business and put us in the spotlight.
If we really listen to our people in the company, acknowledge, appreciate and respect them, they will reward us with commitment, ideas and loyalty.
When we pay attention to our loved ones in life, we get back love, support and joy.
What can we discover behind the concept of paying attention?
Now, if we further strip down the phenomenon of paying attention, what will emerge?
We expose the next layer and can see the following:
Humanity, kindness, respect and appreciation.
All values that are on the wish list of the working world of tomorrow. And all values that can be implemented through attentive behavior.
Let’s get to the core
The desire for more human connection in the working world and the implementation of the aforementioned values means:
We have to care and to be aware.
When we pay attention to a person, situation or our environment, it means that we notice the person or situation, we are aware of them and we take care of the customer, colleague, employee, spouse or friend. We CARE.
But what does require from us?
It requires to invest time and to be curious.
Time and curiosity
Now that we have peeled off the various layers of attention, we come to the realization: To consciously pay attention is a great ability that exists within us.
We got rid of the layer where attention is considered to be a commodity in high demand and constantly being stolen from us.
We then realized that the capability to pay attention is finite and we need to protect it.
This brings forth two elements: Time and Curiosity.
When we listen to someone, care for people, notice and appreciate them, then we do a very simple but valuable thing: we give them our TIME.
If we are aware of our surroundings, people and situations, carefully observing and perceiving them, in order to better understand, learn, anticipate and recognize connections and solutions, then we cultivate a very simple but valuable thing: our CURIOSITY.
Living and working with attention
If we are aware of how valuable our potential to pay attention is then we should consciously defend it and reject and remove everything that diminishes this valuable capacity.
As a result, we can benefit from the positive effects of being attentive so that our commitment to live and work with attention can bring forth fulfillment and success in our professional and private life.
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