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Intention Makes Attention Valuable

Ever thought about the value of paying attention?

Attention sometimes gets a bad rap in today’s society. Perhaps that is because we’ve come to associate the concept of attention with unrelenting selfies that scream “look at me’ and the constant sharing of eery details of one’s life on social media. That is not the type of attention I want to discuss. The type of attention that truly matters and makes a difference in our lives is intentional attention – the kind that helps you show up as the best version of yourself in all roles of your life.

We all want and need attention from the people who are important to us. We want to feel we are the center of somebody’s attention, even if we don’t want to be the center of everybody’s attention.

Attention is critical throughout all aspects of our lives – including our jobs. We need focused attention from our leaders and employees to get work done, to achieve results, and to succeed. our customers and our teams need attention, too. People want to be seen and heard and to know that their concerns are being addressed.

Attention is not optional; it’s vital. It is attention that drives the results we all want and need.

Perhaps this why we always hear the phrase “Pay attention!” Our parents told us to pay attention. Our teachers told us to pay attention. We tell our kids to pay attention. These are all valuable life lessons.

The issue is that most of us are giving distracted, unfocused attention (like texting while driving) to everything and everyone we come in contact with. That kind of attention is worthless. It sends the message that the focus of our attention has little value, meaning, or importance to us.

Intention is what makes attention valuable.

Intentional attention is active. it involves seeing, hearing, and thinking about who is with you and what needs your focus right now. it requires us to choose consciously, act deliberately, and invest transformationally with our attention.

If you are ready to intentionally invest your attention in what matters at the moment; the people you are talking to, the priorities you are acting on, and the passions you are pursuing, it’s time to pick up a copy of Attention Pays and start paying attention to what matters most.

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Protect Your Schedule, Time and Attention

Are you constantly competing with others over your schedule? Do you feel inundated by a barrage of interruptions and distractions each day that leaves you feeling as if you worked like a crazy person all day and accomplished nothing as a result?

In my new book, Attention Pays, I outline strategies for busy professionals to protect their time and attention from being fritted away by anyone and anything asking for it.

Here are seven strategies you can being implementing today to take control of your schedule and permit you the time necessary to leverage your attention to accomplish more each day.

Create a personal daily strategic 15-minute appointment – Take this time to determine your top three non-negotiable activities you must complete before you sleep tonight. Several years ago, I challenged an executive leadership team at Comcast to invest 15 minutes of their attention every day in a strategic appointment. They say awesome results, become the highest performing team in their region. Their shared increased focus allowed them to prioritize completion of strategic objectives and invest in their people’s development instead of being distracted by everyday busyness.

Schedule your morning routine – We outlined this routine in Chapter 3 of my new book, Attention Pays. It’s critical that you get this on your calendar so that phone calls or meetings don’t encroach on this important time.

Assign certain activities to specific days of the week – This system has you group regular activities together to maximize productivity and minimize distractions. Will it work seamlessly with every week in the same way? no, but with a system, your team or assistant can schedule meetings on designated days. We worked with a financial services executive to design her ideal week. here is what hers looked like. Yours, of course, will be different:

  • Monday: Meet with team members, senior leadership, and her boss in the office.
  • Tuesday to Thursday: Industry and vendor networking events, client appointments, presentation preparation, and travel. These days were spent outside the office and included a work-from-home day.
  • Friday: As she enjoyed being home for weekends, any meetings were local and never scheduled to finish later than 5pm. If no meetings were scheduled, she focused on strategizing for the upcoming week and catching up on administrative work.

Schedule no talk days – My best friend manages multiple companies, raises my two beautiful God-daughters, volunteers in her community, and enjoys working with her clients. She discovered that on days she doesn’t talk to anyone, she’s massively productive. So, she started scheduling no-talk days – days with no appointments, which are dedicated to strategy and achieving goals. As an extrovert, I found this strategy especially helpful. Could you do this once a quarter to make more progress toward your bigger goals?

Schedule service days – I allocate one day a month on my calendar for pro bono assistance to people in my industry who need help. could you add a service day to your calendar?

Time block – Schedule space in your calendar for strategy, email review, meetings, social media engagement, and personal time.

Create visual recognition systems – Use color-coding to simplify your life. My calendar uses a variety of colors to show speaking, travel, consulting, personal appointments, and administration and business development.

Block out personal time in advance and honor the appointment with yourself as you would a client or employee.

Pick up a copy of Attention Pays to learn more about creating an extraordinary life by ‘unplugging’ from the constant barrage of disruptions and ‘plugging in’ to the tools, strategies, and mindsets that allows you to harness your attention to reach your highest potential.

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12-Step Program to Detox Your Team

Does your workplace culture or your team environment resemble a daytime soap opera? Do new workplace dramas unfold among your team members each Monday morning? Are spats and tiffs between team leaders the norm? (Do you often hear music crescendo in the background and then cut to a commercial break?)

Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives…

If so, then your workplace culture is ill, and I’m afraid it’s not a make-believe disease a` la General Hospital, nor can it be cured in a 30-minute episode. You may be suffering from “Toxic Team Syndrome!”

I’ve been hired to play doctor to cure these toxic work environments. It’s tough to diagnose your particular problem. I’m no doctor, and no – I don’t even play one on TV. But I’m willing to bet that these problems are merely symptoms of leadership failings and missteps, such as:

  1. Lack of leadership vision
  2. Poor leadership communication
  3. Failure to develop team members
  4. Leaders who are unconscious and unaware of their impact on others
  5. Team members forced to compete against each other (and actually, that statement is an oxymoron)
  6. “Leaders” function more like managers in that they focus only on managing processes, systems, things, and pay little attention to mentoring, engaging, or inspiring people
  7. Bored team members
  8. Leaders who use a one-size-fits-all approach
  9. No emphasis/effort in creating a positive work culture

Thankfully, for you as the executive leader, it’s not a fatal disease – if you catch it early. The first step is to recognize that you have a problem. Don’t be in denial. The bottom line is that you can’t cure the disease if you don’t admit that you’re sick.

So many leaders are absolutely clueless to the work environment they’ve created.

Yep, I did say that you create the work environment. So if your work environment is like a soap opera drama, you can correct it over time. Here, I have listed my

12-step program for detoxifying your team:

  1. Explain to each team member how his/her work contributes to the bigger picture.
  2. Get to know team members and focus on drawing out the best that they have to give. Serve as a mentor, guide, and inspiration to team members.
  3. Leadership is an inside job. Identify your own strengths, limitations, blind spots, etc. Lead from a place of self-assurance and confidence.
  4. Clue people into the bigger picture – share your vision for the organization.
  5. Treat each person as an individual but don’t play favorites.
  6. Don’t participate in, nor tolerate malicious workplace gossip. Establish a professional atmosphere where all team members are treated in a respectful manner.
  7. Reward, recognize and encourage teamwork and avoid creating situations that require team members to compete against one another.
  8. Provide team members with a variety of development opportunities and cross-train team members where appropriate.
  9. Err on the side of over-communication. Effective leaders know they can’t communicate too much with team members.
  10. Ask for, and really listen to, feedback from team members, customers, and superiors. And then make changes where needed!
  11. Work hard to build and maintain trust and loyalty. NEVER discuss one team member’s issues, problems, or situation with another team member.
  12. Strike a balance between setting yourself above (and superior) to your team and being one of the “guys.” Somewhere in the middle is best.

YOUR TURN! What will you:

  • start doing,
  • stop doing, or
  • continue doing or do differently

to “detoxify” your team and your team’s work environment? Share your action plan with us in the comment box below!

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Jennifer Ledet, CSP, is a leadership consultant and professional speaker (with a hint of Cajun flavor) who equips leaders from the boardroom to the mailroom to improve employee engagement, teamwork, and communication.  In her customized programs, leadership retreats, keynote presentations, and breakout sessions, she cuts through the BS and talks through the tough stuff to solve your people problems