How Does Your Attention Matter?
It was a beautiful thing. She brought such complete attention, that in her presence I could see his confidence expand. He stood taller. He played with more passion. It was as if she had the power to light him up from within.
My friend Alise is visiting from Dallas this week. I’ve been like an excited kid at Christmas in anticipation. She is one of my favorite people and always such an inspiration to me. I knew it would be fun for me, having her here – what I didn’t anticipate was the impact she would have on my kiddo. Last night, after dinner, Jeremy decided to put on a concert. He played through his repertoire and we ooooh’d and ahhhhh’d and clapped in all the appropriate places. He amazes me – what he’s able to do on that keyboard. Wasn’t I still playing with Barbies when I was his age?
After about 20 minutes, my husband and I grew restless, retiring into the living room (we have, after all, heard these same songs over-and-over-and-over again), but not Alise. She drew closer. Brandy in hand, she nestled into the hammock chair beside Jeremy’s keyboard and gave him her full attention. “Isn’t it magnificent how my fingers can do this?” he said, playing as fast as he could play, his confidence soaring as his humility wavered. “Yes! It is magnificent!” she replied. My husband and I sat laughing quietly in the living room as his music filled the air.
A few minutes later I snuck in and watched them – my friend, rapt with attention, listening so intently to my child playing with such gusto. I recognized that look in his eyes – I had seen it before. He felt seen.
It’s the same look I see in my participants’ eyes when I’m talking with them one-on-one. When someone gives us their full attention – really sees us – it makes all the difference. Suddenly, confidence we didn’t know we had comes to the surface, our natural abilities strengthened, passion unleashed. We feel more powerful. Able. Ready. When we feel truly seen, our best comes easily. There’s not a greater gift you can give someone than to give them your full attention. To see them – for real.
And like it did for Jeremy, focused attention can fuel even greater performance. “You liked that?! Wait ’til you see this! And This! And THIS!”
Think about it from a leadership perspective. If your job is to ensure you’re are getting the best from the people you lead, to meet the goals of your organization, is there anything more important? What could your results be if the people on your team were truly confident, if they were leveraging their natural abilities, and brought passion to work? If they felt powerful? In a world where we’re going a million-miles-an-hour all day long, balancing 20 different things, with competing priorities and deadlines looming, it’s hard to give our full attention to anything or anyone. But maybe, just maybe, it’s worth trying.
For we can grow older and wiser, more experienced, we can make more money, get a fancier title, look like we have it all together – but it doesn’t matter if you’re a nine-year-old boy like Jeremy, a mom, a teacher, an entrepreneur, a volunteer, an individual contributor, or a CEO – as human beings deep down inside we really just want to know that we matter. That we’re seen.
Who can you give your full attention to today? You have the ability to make a bigger difference than you know.
This post is dedicated to my dear friend Alise – thank you for being you. To see some of the cool stuff Alise is up to in the world click here: http://alisecortez.com/
©OnStage Leadership, 2014
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Kimberly Davis is the Founder/Director of OnStage Leadership, a full-day experiential leadership workshop. Click here to read what people are saying!