In our fast paced world of technology, speed is a necessity and access to information is readily at our fingertips, making our lives more demanding than ever. It’s difficult to keep up and we often find ourselves missing what is right before our eyes. Are you paying enough attention? Are you reading with precision? Are you responding in a kind, patient way? Are you striving to be your best self with everything you see, do, and touch? It’s a struggle.
Everything is moving at such a fast clip, making is daunting to keep up. We get incoming news, emails, texts, social media, calls, voicemails, etc. How is it possible to process it all? Well, we can’t. We are bombarded with more than we can sift through and effectively digest.
Instead of reading what is there, we skim and move onto the next thing. I often find myself looking at something in hopes of reverting back to it and studying it more intently later, but I often do not end up circling back. We don’t seem to have enough time to cover everything thoroughly so we glance and react. With this approach, we often get things wrong, misinterpret what’s before us, let our emotions control our actions, and ultimately lose the art of reflection and measured responses.
Specifically, we read and devour information with fury, ingest what we can with limited time, and race to get the next thing done. We misjudge, make typos, respond haphazardly, assess with limited attention and sometimes even poorer listening skills, all the while being bogged down by endless distractions. I find myself guilty of these things far too often.
It takes discipline to read attentively, think about a topic, and respond thoughtfully even if it’s just a casual communication. It takes time to really devote your full attention. It takes pondering before we can figure out a solution or what makes sense. We do things in such a hurry that we lose our perspective and in our haste do not come across thoroughly or with enough courtesy and grace. With every action and interaction, there should be a fulsome desire to leave someone happier or take away a learning. This means that we just need to take a little more time to do things. Two such examples are as follows.
Simply, read more attentively. And then re-read it a couple more times. I even catch myself with something as basic as emailing or texting, initially missing something in the message. My desire is to always do better with things big and small. Carefully processing information is becoming more and more of a rarity. Sometimes you don’t need to read between the lines, you just read the lines.
Listen closely. Really listen. Give someone your full focus without looking at or thinking about something else. Put the technology away and be present. This is challenging given everything we all have to do and are interested in and curious about. However, if we can be more attentive, our interactions become richer and our connections stronger. Sit across from someone, pick up the phone, send a note in the mail, go back to some of the old conventions that allowed for better engagement with others. If you are the one that carves out the time and gives all of yourself, wonderful outcomes will emerge. Everyone wants to be a priority, and has a desire to be heard, thought of, and cared about. Everyone.
Take an hour a week — just an hour — to begin making little improvements. It does not have to be related to reading or listening. These are just a couple of things I am focusing on, but there are likely other aspects of your daily life that resonate with you more personally and profoundly. No matter what it is, you can start small with deliberate intention and slowly make progress.
Thanks for reading and listening…
When you pay attention to detail, the big picture will take care of itself.
—George’s St. Pierre