Attention

Kingsland, Auckland NZ 2012 (photo credit: Christian Espinoza)

In 2019 it seems the greatest asset to have is attention.

I sometimes find myself in direct competition with others people’s mobile phones during a conversation. That’s not a gripe, just a common observation. I have taught rooms of people, conducted training camps, given presentations, given talks on stage, and performed to audiences, and if I ever spot anyone on their phone I know instantly that I have lost their attention. It is the single most obvious indicator that they have lost interest or, better yet, found something else more interesting to give their attention to.

I went to see Gary Vaynerchuk give a keynote speech last year at the Cordis Hotel in Auckland, and he described the notion of attention as being the new currency in business (and in life). This reminded me of something similar, as I had recently read Oren Klaff’s book Pitch Anything. In the book, Klaff delves into the psychology of delivering a high stakes pitch, in particular how to immediately excite the attention of the person or people you are pitching to in order to deliver the content you have to them. Without first cutting through the ever present defense mechanism inherent in all of us, what we have to say or show will likely fall on deaf ears.

In our everyday lives we experience constant forces pulling at our attention, in both a digital and physical sense. If you don’t know a world without technology at your fingertips then you might struggle to gain and regain focus.

Give boredom a try. It will likely force new ideas to light. If you’re on your regular commute, on the bus or the train, and you don’t know what the view looks like along the way, try paying attention out the window instead of your phone. Who knows, it may inspire you to create something.

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