(Really) Paying Attention in Business!
I often drive up to skiing by myself. I know, this is not the most ecologically-conscious approach. But, I just have difficulty finding folks to go up with me, since I tend to ski during the week — when most folks are working.
In any case, I find I have an hour-and-a-half or so of time to think each way. I love to spend this time listening to podcasts — one of my favorites is Philosophize This by Stephen West. Most of the time, as I listen to these digests of great philosophical thinkers, I see value not only to my own personal growth, but also to how I run my business, and how I advise my clients on their business.
Just a few weeks ago, I listened to a great podcast on Simone Weil, and her Ethics of Attention. She was a French philosopher (and spiritualist?) living during the pre-WWII days in the first half of the 20th century.
Not only our actions and choices, but the possibilities we choose among, and even the meaning of what we perceive, are to a large extent determined by whether we pay attention, and what we attend to.
Ms Weil has a lot to say about many areas of life. But I came away from the podcast with a pretty simple lesson: In order to make good decisions, we really need to pay attention! It seems really obvious, but it is clear to me that most of the time, we all fail to heed this simple advice. We are too caught up with events either in the future (and not yet real) or unrelated to the core decision at hand, to really focus. While I’m pretty good at managing stress, and keeping it from affecting and clouding my thinking, it is still can be hard to discern the real facts and issues from my emotionally-tinged worldview.
I also found a great book on this Ethics of Attention, about both Simone Weil’s and Iris Murdoch’s philosophies. They advise that “not only our actions and choices, but the possibilities we choose among, and even the meaning of what we perceive, are to a large extent determined by whether we pay attention, and what we attend to.” I interpret this guidance with an attention-based decision making model.
Attention-Based Decision Making:
- “Take a breath”, and find some calm.
- Approach the decision based upon the facts at hand.
- Recognize and attempt to isolate the unrelated influences on the decision, such as stress.