Paying Attention to What Matters Most

In the whirlwind of the 14-20 hours most of us are conscious everyday, it becomes easy to lose sight of what’s important if we aren’t careful. From the moment we wake up in the morning until the moment we go to sleep at night, life pulls at us with relentless demands for our attention. We are bombarded with the constant noise and mixed messaging of news outlets, social media and the internet – and that’s the short list.

We aren’t alone in this struggle. The pervasiveness of this “busy” epidemic is arguably at crisis level. Exhaustion has become a status symbol.

The irony is that even though we are accomplishing more than ever before, for many of us, it still doesn’t feel like enough. There is still more to do and accomplish, more to contribute and create. Despite the valuable contributions we make to our families, organizations or society, many of us question our abilities and ongoing effectiveness in the many different roles we play role – CEO, parent, friend, entrepreneur, fill-in-the-blank.

According to Brené Brown, one of the biggest drivers of armored leadership at work is feeling irrelevant. It’s that moment where you start to question your ability, your contributions, and the importance of your voice and story in the larger narrative. What can we do when we start to experience this irrelevance, or see others struggling through something similar? We can pause and take a moment to ground ourselves. Ask: What is the story I am making up about this, and what is true?

Another thing we can choose to do is choose connect with others. In her Ted Talk on vulnerability, Brené talks about humans being neuro-biologically hardwired for connection. When is the last time that you were intentional with connection? Calling that long lost friend, or choosing to each lunch with a colleague – sans cellphone – instead of trying to catch up with email and playing Candy Crush to decompress? (Full disclosure, I totally am in the Email/Candy Crush camp 95% of the time. Level 2298 thankyouverymuch!) #workinprogress

Pausing for moment of gratitude can change the course of your day, both for yourself and others. Having a ritual cup of tea (or coffee – I see you!) in the morning. Actually leaving the building and going on a 10 minute walk outside when the weather cooperates. Bringing our attention to what we are most grateful for in our lives right this moment – and full permission granted to have it be that cup of coffee. Mama said there would be days like this!

This morning, I walked into a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a card acknowledging the work that I do. Completely unexpected, and so grateful. Her words landed square in the space where doubt had been living. Now? There is a kinder narrative for me to bring into my consciousness. And it feels really good to know that my work really is making a difference.

Little moments matter. Those verbal thank you’s, notes of appreciation, and gestures of gratitude have real impact. They also build trust. We each have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others every single day, we just have to choose to quiet the noise and Pay Attention to what matters most.

QOTD:  “‘Crazy-busy’ is a great armor, it’s a great way for numbing. What a lot of us do is that we stay so busy, and so out in front of our life, that the truth of how we’re feeling and what we really need can’t catch up with us.”
~ Brené Brown

Mood: Mama Said – The Shirelles

Share: Tell me about a time that someone expressed gratitude towards you. What was that experience like for you? Are you overdue to express gratitude towards others? What’s stopping you?

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