“Attention” is getting a lot of attention these days, and rightfully so. We routinely joke about everybody’s shorter attention spans and chronic anxiety – “I don’t want to think about that, I’ve got too much going on right now.”
Way back before personal computers and Walkmen, we already had big concerns about the effect modern life was having on us – things like multitasking, work/life balance, accelerating time, sleep deprivation, etc. Now we’ve added the internet, smartphones, texting, Tik-Tok, Instagram, and other assorted social media, not to mention a pandemic and various work-from-home hybrid options, to shorten even further our shortening attention spans.
I’m not saying anything we don’t all really know, but it’s time to start reacting intelligently to what’s happening. So, while we look forward to the day when we start making headway on the “big picture” (around devices, screen time, regulating social media, pressures on kids, and the overall cultural environment), each of us is still here, now, inside our own skin, needing to at least pay better attention to our personal situations.
Yes, some of us continue to do it naturally, instinctively, and don’t need much reminding, while others among us are barely keeping from being overwhelmed each day – and hardly know where to begin. Most of us occupying the broad middle, go in and out of still functioning well enough, despite everything going on “out there.” But truthfully, many of us aren’t really aware of what we’re thinking – about anything – unless we start talking out loud. We put one foot in front of the other while also selectively managing (juggling) self-awareness – sometimes okay, then once in a while not so much. “Barely muddling through” is what I’m hearing all the time.
It’s neither a crime nor a failure to be in that situation, but staying with muddling through is a dubious approach – and heading the wrong way. Even that surge of motivation that comes from wanting to help a loved one doesn’t reliably generate the awareness and emotional honesty needed to pause, calm the racing mind, reflect on the situation with a clear eye, and identify what to do now.
So, what’s needed to get there?
For many organizations, it’s totally clear that their leaders and managers operate best when they’ve got someone to talk to confidentially – a coach or consultant – to get into the nitty gritty, consider the options, and begin to see the way forward. It brings better clarity, and it results in fewer difficulties while arriving at the best approaches to what should happen from here.
And it’s more than just the “who” and the “what.” It’s the “how” that makes clear the essential need for emotional energy. It’s imagining well what needs to be done including having the anticipation, concentration, persistence, patience, and generosity to get where you want to go – and knowing you have to be emotionally prepared to get there. The thing about emotional energy is, if you let yourself realize you need it, you tend to get it.
That’s where I come in. It’s a strength I’m proud of, frankly. And it’s not really that complicated. Our conversations help people arrive at better clarity about whatever they’re dealing with, help them imagine and decide where they want to go from there – including specific steps – and find the emotional energy needed to get there.