The other day, a friend paid me a strange yet wonderful compliment. He said that the word I used most was noticed, as in “I noticed that you ______.”
He went on to explain that I pay attention to things, but more importantly, I take action.
Read that last part again: I take action.
Why does this matter?
Because simply observing something makes you a spectator; taking action means you go one step further and use that observation to achieve a purpose and effect positive change.
The former is passive; the latter is proactive.
I hadn’t realized that I did this, but I’m pleased to learn that I do. It means that I’m living at the intersection of attention and intention, the place where tremendous growth and learning occur.
This ability is very helpful in life, but can also be applied to your career.
What you notice while paying attention can take many different forms…
…perhaps while scanning the P&L, you discover a huge accounting error
…maybe you see that people are using your product in an unintended and new way
…or you might suddenly have an insight to combine two seemingly disparate things.
Without follow-up, all of these examples would be fleeting thoughts — and missed opportunities.
So how can you increase your powers of observation so you can take action?
Put down your phone. Stop checking your email. Close your door. Create an environment where interruptions are minimized, so you’ll be free to take notice.
Focus on whatever (or whomever) is most important to you
It’s hard to spot things when you’re busy multi-tasking. When you concentrate on those people or things that are most important to you, you’re better able to see, hear, and feel small details that you would otherwise miss.
Maintain a childlike curiosity
Imagine the things we’d view if we all approached the world with an open mind? Cultivating your natural wonder will allow you space to make keen observations.
Remember: attention without intention is meaningless. But noticing things — and acting on them — can make amazing things happen.