Invest in the Moment: Pay Attention

by Martin Boroson

Get laser focus for leadership

If you want to excel, you need the laser-sharp focus that comes only by being truly in the moment.

The costs of distraction are enormous.

For businesses, distraction causes accidents, injuries, unnecessary work, diminished creativity, reduced output, and critical incidents, not to mention ethical lapses and PR disasters. And in these digital days, with the enormous competition for employees’ attention, businesses face serious challenges of quality control and accident prevention.

For you, performing at your best depends on being focused, and not just focused on your long-term goals. You need the kind of penetrating focus that can sort through the complex problems you have to deal with each day.

You also need the people around you to be focused. Yet more and more, the people you work with are showing signs of severe distraction disorder. Beyond the obvious safety risks, or effects on performance, think how your team’s inability to pay attention is just, well, dispiriting. Think of those long meetings, made so unsatisfying and inefficient because people are only paying partial attention.

That’s why you, as a leader, can realize big benefits by promoting attention development skills within your team. You can do this so easily:  Show them that attention matters to you. Get them the training they need. And then build an atmosphere that is conducive to paying attention. Make sure your people know that you actually want to see them pausing to reboot their minds and sharpen their focus.

But first, learn how to get a grip on your own wandering mind. Just remind yourself that you have a choice — that paying attention is up to you — and bring your attention back to this moment.

This is like giving your “attention muscles” a mini-workout. And the stronger those attention muscles become, the more power of attention you have, and the more skill you have in deploying it.

Imagine the effect that this increased power of attention could have on your success. Indeed, it seems to me that, before investing in any other personal development or leadership training, we all first just need to learn how to pay attention better.

Imagine how much more productive your day will be when you begin each team meeting first by making sure that everyone who is present in body is also present in mind.  Imagine using a brief investment in the moment to clarify your intention and goals for that meeting. Imagine how your team — trained and empowered in taking a moment to pay attention better — will work smarter, make fewer mistakes, catch critical errors, and be able to spot new opportunities.

This is not a fantasy: it is exactly the strategy that my most innovative clients — in healthcare, IT, retail, utility and financial services — are deploying now,  from a surgical team at Kaiser Permanente doing One-Moment Meditation® together before an operation, to engineers at a nuclear power plant adding a moment of meditation to their morning safety reviews, to a team leader at a global pharmaceutical company using moments of meditation to boost innovation in their brainstorming sessions.

But that’s not all …

As your own ability to pay attention improves, you will begin to experience what I call a state of “deep attention.” And then you will find that the power of your attention will actually enhance whatever you are working on. In other words, it’s about much more than being present or seeing life clearly.  As you shine the light of your own deep attention on life, life is thereby enhanced.

And there’s more …

Attention is such a powerful tool that, when you are finally able to devote your full attention — heart and mind, body and soul — to a problem, a solution begins to appear instantly. Remarkable though this may sound, I have seen it happen many times. Simply by devoting your full attention to this moment, you find that the world begins to shift. You can make momentous change instantly.

This is the most remarkable power of present-moment awareness, and we will explore it more in later articles of this series. But you can begin to experience it–even in a small way–right now.  Simply make the decision to devote more attention to what is here for you right now, then take a breath, and begin.


Read the next article in this series:  Stay Current

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Read the introduction and all articles in this series.