In a multi-tasking world, attentiveness is often elusive. Have you ever been trying to have a conversation with a co-worker, a friend, or even your spouse, but their attention was stuck down at their phone? Do you know that moment that happens in a meeting at work, when in the midst of an important conversation, you notice that half the room is focused elsewhere? Have you ever run into someone in the grocery store and you know they are physically there, but you can quickly tell by talking with them that their mind is elsewhere?
We all do it. We’ve never lived in more distracting times than we do now. And, we’ve already identified that we need to change our mindset from Busy to Effective.
So, this is why this topic of attentiveness resonates so deeply with me. At the core of my being, I know that my authentic experience in the world is directly connected to the moments when I am truly attentive, engaged, tuned in to each unique moment. I know I’m a better father, husband, friend, and certainly better about serving the teams and organizations I work with when I’m operating out of genuine attentiveness. And yet, very rarely (if ever) would we hear it listed in the description of the most important leadership skills.
Well, I think that is about to change. To be attentive is to tune all of our senses into the here and now of this unique moment. The most effective leaders, parents, or friends are the ones who give their undivided attention to the people, problems, celebrations, opportunities, and moments that appear in front of them. They have the focused ability to make each situation feel like the most important moment of their day.
When I ask people to describe the leadership skills or characteristics of the most compelling and effective leaders in their life, they often say things like “he always makes time for me” or “she has my best interest in mind” or “he has always made me feel valued.” All of these phrases scream out a leader who is attentive to the growth of another person. They have time. They make time. They value the individual moments.
In this fall season when the leaves will begin to turn colors, I’m always reminded to go outside and take a walk. Go marvel at the burst of colors, the smell of the season, and the amazing feel of the autumn air. Because the reality is, if you don’t, you’ll miss it.
So, here’s my invitation to you — go take a walk. Not just outside (although please do that too) but take a walk throughout your office, throughout your home, and throughout your neighborhood. Don’t rush, but open your eyes to attentiveness. Allow yourself to see the people, the faces, the problems, the celebrations, the moments that need your attention.
Trust me — you’ll enjoy the walk way more when you can see the colors, smell the surroundings, and truly feel the air along your path. Attentiveness is one of the underrated (but critical) leadership skills for our journey.
Now, I’m going to go take a walk. Where will you walk next?
Jason Barger is a globally celebrated author, keynote speaker, and leadership consultant. More importantly, he’s striving to be an above average father, husband, and friend.
Follow on Twitter @JasonVBarger and learn more at JasonVBarger.com