Do you find it difficult to pay attention? Are you easily distracted? For years, I’ve suffered from a form of attention deficit. Not a clinical form, I just have a hard time paying attention. And I’m not alone.
A recent study indicates the human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds in the last ten years. That’s less than the 9 second attention span of a goldfish.
Multitasking, the internet, and social media have all contributed to this downward spiral. At the current rate of decline, we’ll hit zero in twenty years!
In 2002, Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck wrote a book called The Attention Economy. The book suggested that in an age of information overload attention has become the most valuable business currency. In the book, they state:
“understanding and managing attention is now the single most important determinant of business
I believe that’s also true for personal success.
A couple of years ago I made a decision to start taking control of my attention. If attention is currency, I want to be a wise manager of mine. Spending, saving and investing my attention where it will get me the highest return on investment. As part of my efforts to improve my focus, I’ve even resorted to meditation, yoga and breathing exercises. All of which I highly recommend.
I also dusted off a copy of Fish!. The book was a big hit in the business books category when it released in 2000. Since then it’s sold more than 5 million copies. It’s about a fictional accounting manager who rediscovers passion and enthusiasm for her work after a chance encounter with a fish guy at a Seattle fish market. It’s a fast read and filled with useful nuggets.
The key points are:
- Choose Your Attitude
- Make Their Day
- Be Present
For this post, I want to focus on the fourth one – Be Present.
Why be present?
Fish! suggests we are present when we give a person our undivided attention. I believe our undivided attention communicates several things, including:
- I respect you.
- You matter to me.
- I care about you.
- I’m interested in you.
- You are valuable to me.
How to give the gift of presence
Below are 7 steps to be more present with your friends, family and co-workers.
- STOP whatever you’re doing. That includes all mobile devices.
- TURN your head and body toward the person.
- LOOK them in the eye.
- SMILE, if the situation allows.
- FOCUS your attention on them.
- LISTEN with interest.
- ASK meaningful questions, don’t try to offer too many solutions.
Today, give the gift of your presence. Not just a part of your presence, but all of your presence. It may take some practice but the return on investment is worth it.
Do you have any stories about about how being fully present has benefited you or someone else? Share them in the comments below.
And remember, to help someone else succeed–today!