Do you know the difference between Focus and Attention? I hadn’t really thought about it until I was listening to a pod cast this morning as part of my morning ritual.
My mornings start around 5.45am with 3 things, which take 30 minutes.
- The 5 Tibetan rites ( if you have not heard of these google them they are very powerful)
I then move on to learning something that will benefit me greatly throughout my day, as well as others that know me. I try really hard and commit to not check email and social media until I have been through these steps to keep me grounded.
The reason I like to do this is because I love to learn but more importantly I love to share. Then it is followed up with a cup of Tea ( Davids Tea Orange Pekoe Supreme) and a phone call to my Best Friend to usually catch up or have very empowering enlightening conversations where we get to share and dissect what we are learning in an exchange of powerful energy and inspiration for the day.
Today was a particularly interesting morning as I had woken up at around 5am I could not sleep so I decided to take some extra time and listen to an online course that was about an hour recording and because I had woken up so early it gave me ample time to sit relax and listen intently. Todays audio was sharing the difference between focus and attention and why it matters.
Teaching Leadership for many years the word focus is a word or behavior that I am very familiar with we ask our teams every day what are you focused on? And if they are focused on the wrong thing we make assessments on their ability to prioritize the right things. Then we redirect their focus to what is needed. Focus is an all consuming series of thoughts when focusing on something it becomes the one thing your mind is obsessed with. Think back for a moment and reflect on the past two weeks, can you think of a time that your mind became obsessed with something? So much that you could not think about anything else? In that moment were you even focused on being the best version of you or were you so consumed with the thought that nothing else mattered? If you are having a hard time finding something think about when your boss gave you feedback that you were not aware of, or your family were frustrated with you regarding work these are easy ways to figure out if your mind was consumed and focused. Maybe someone was talking to you and you were thinking about something else.
Our minds are a very powerful tool we all have a small inner voice of intuition that guides our actions if we allow it. It shows up as a thought and can be very helpful however this can only show up when we learn to truly listen to ourselves. Leading thousands of individuals over the past twenty plus years has taught me when we as leaders encourage others to be themselves people perform much better than when they work in an environment that is filled with pressure. But to create this environment it is critical to allow people to share their own thoughts and ideas to accomplish this a leader must understand how. Creating all consuming thoughts (focus) within people that take them away from listening to their true self can actually be detrimental to any business unless you are running an assembly line where there is no room for creativity.
So what does this have to do with the act of focusing and why is it actually beneficial to allow our attention to be the dominant action rather than focus?
Consider the act of giving attention for a moment, attention does not take the focus off the individual person. In fact it allows the person to stay focused on themselves while giving attention to different activities at the same time. Attention is a flexible thought, it moves, it can adjust as needed, it can change extremely fast based on what is needed at that current moment. For example being focused on a customer or paying attention to all customers sounds very different.
What would it sound like if you asked your managers or teams today. Where was your attention spent today? What were you focused on? Asking the first question almost gives the other person permission to have several different focuses but the ability to know when to flex their focus by paying attention to what is going on around them and listen to the internal voice on what is right in any given moment.
Attention allows other thoughts to enter, focus does not. Focus is important as there are times when critical laser focus is required, however, be mindful when setting focuses for your team that you are still allowing them to be themselves and they are still paying attention to everything else that is required of them on a daily basis.
Leading is a responsibility that starts with self-leadership, what are you paying attention to today? And what is holding your mind hostage? Think about it.