Archives for posts with tag: attention

In his seminal work,  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey introduced his philosophy on empathic communication…Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Dr. Covey notes that there are five types of listening: Ignoring, Pretending, Selective, Attentive and Empathic.

Exceptional communicators strive to achieve that pinnacle stage of becoming an empathic listener, i.e. “putting yourself in the other person’s proverbial shoes”. This means paying attention to the level that we truly understand their feelings and emotions.

The physical act of hearing is different that the mental act of listening. Listening with empathy requires a concerted effort to commit your undivided attention to the speaker. Sounds easy, does hard!

Fortunately, we can develop the skills to become better listeners, and communicators.

One technique that has helped me improve in this area is to conscientiously “listen with my eyes.” By maintaining comfortable and consistent eye contact with the speaker, it helps me to focus on them and to better concentrate on the message they are trying to deliver.

listen eyes



While working with my business clients, it has become evident that there is pain and frustration resulting from apparently not having enough time for getting the most important business-related activities completed.

Certainly, daily operational requirements coupled with the speed of technology can create an environment wherein we may fall into the “reactive” versus “proactive” mode.  Thus, we tend to allow that proverbial “whirlwind” of activity to take control of our how our time gets spent..

Consequently, excuses begin to enter into the picture, as we justify our lack of execution as being the bi-product of too many tasks to be completed coupled with too many interruptions.

As emphasized in my blog on the 6 P’s  (Proper Prior Planning Produces Professional Performance), it is imperative that YOU CHOOSE to control the what, when, where, and why of how you spend YOUR valuable time & energy.

Do what matters!  Resolve to perform the most important high-leverage activities that will deliver the maximum return on your effort.

Take Action

Action = Priorities

Your genuine priorities are exhibited by what you focus on and how you actually “spend” your valuable time.

Those actions and decisions have, thus far, lead you to where you are (or aren’t) today.

For passions that are truly a personal priority for you, you can find a way to make them become a reality (and given the dynamic nature of our lives, that vision can, and will, frequently change).

Your ultimate desires will be the ones that command your attention and awareness.  These are the activities in your life that matter the most to you.  This is where you MUST invest your time, interest and energy.

A sound prioritization process should provide you with the ability to determine what actions will bring both joy and fulfillment into your life, and into the lives of others!


Throughout my career, I’ve observed various strategies for “dealing” with problems, an essential function of leadership:

  1. avoid confronting it and hope the issue somehow goes away
  2. delegate to subordinates and assume they can fix the issue
  3. add the issue to an ominous to-do list and get to it based on priorities
  4. face the issue head-on, and promptly resolve it with appropriate intensity

Obviously, certain situations require greater responsiveness and urgency than others.  Regardless, if a situation falls into what you define as a “problem”, your role as a leader is to resolve it as quickly as possible.

Following the protocol outlined below will enable you to consistently address and resolve those “problems.”

  • Identify exactly where the core issue lies (people, process, etc.)
  • Quickly gather all pertinent facts
  • Determine possible solutions, using all available human resources
  • Select the optimal resolution, including who is best capable of handling it
  • Take immediate action
  • Evaluate and monitor to ensure proper resolution

Applying this formula to eliminate challenges will allow you to spend your energy proactively focused on the activties that can drive your business forward.

Dickens determination

Wow, was Charles Dickens ever ahead of his time when he made this declaration in the 1800’s!

The art of time management rightfully reinforced the importance of such traits as planning, proactivity, prioritizing and punctuality as essential in achieving your goals (see the blog on the 6 P’s for more).

In the late 1960’s, the computer industry introduced the concept of multitasking, the apparent improved performance by an individual via handling more than one task at the same time.

I recall an era when job seekers proudly touted multitasking as a skill on their resumes!

The reality is that multitasking results in wasted effort due to human context switching and apparently causing more errors due to insufficient attention.

A 2009 study by Hewlett-Packard revealed that multitaskers performed much worse at tasks involving cognitive processes and memory than did those who focused on single tasks.

As alluded to in The Electronic Leash blog, modern day technology has forced us to heed Dickens’ direction. Those who indeed can demonstrate the skill of concentrating on one task at a time will surely outperform the others who remain at the mercy of allowing distraction to occur.

Pick a setting…your workplace, golf course, restaurant, classroom, any conversation, etc. and conduct an attention observation experiment.

The bombardment of real-time, rapid-fire information at our fingertips has created a world where our focus is constantly pinballing from one “interruption” to the next.

Between cell phone alerts, email intrusions, new message pop-ups, etc., it’s a wonder how one can truly concentrate on any item for more than a few minutes at a time.  These disruptions wreak havoc on any significant efforts that require undivided attention…if we allow it.

Two personal favorites are: the business “meetings” where attendees spend their time looking at  their laptops or mobile devices; and the “face-to-face” conversations wherein eyes are focused on computer screens or  I-phones during most of the discussion.

You have the personal power and discipline to manage the electronic leashes should you choose to do so!

electronic leash II