Friday, August 08, 2014

Notice What You Notice

As the calendar page flips over to August, many of you may be on vacation or stuck in a long airport delay. The kids or grandkids are out of school, and half the people you need to reach at work are either out of the office—or have one foot out the door. Either way, everyone’s out of their normal routine a little and things just aren’t running as smoothly as you’d prefer.

Like it or not, you’re mind’s going to drift and the temptation is to focus on what’s wrong with your practice, business, family, golf swing, tennis stroke or relationships. It’s good to address those issues head on, but better yet, focus on the good things you can make better, not the bad things that are dragging you down.

In a surprisingly pithy op-ed piece today, Times columnist David Brooks suggested that there are two types of people: those who keep a journal (mental or actual) and those who don’t. “People who keep a journal often see it as part of the process of self-understanding and personal growth. They don’t want insights and events to slip through their minds. They think with their fingers and have to write to process experiences and become aware of their feelings. People who oppose journal-keeping fear it contributes to self-absorption and narcissism.

Maybe Brooks is on vacation this week, but we think the point he’s trying to make is that the more your can distance yourself form your own “intimacy with yourself” the more reliable your self-awareness is likely to be.”

You may have to take an exotic trip or put yourself in some kind of social situation that’s way outside your comfort zone. Maybe it’s joining a new networking group or civic organization, taking up a new sport (in which you’re sure to look foolish at first) and striking up a conversation with someone in your building elevator or commuter train that you keep interacting with but never engage. Pay attention to your body language and voice inflection in those situations. Are you listening more or talking more?

Notice what you notice

Back in my triathlon days, I had a great swim coach, the late Doug Stern. Doug had an amazing ability to remember every single person’s name in his aquatics class—even with five or six dozen people in identical swim caps thrashing about him—and he mentioned everyone by name several times during each workout. Don’t think that matters!

But, it wasn’t Doug’s charisma that made him so great, it was how he got you attuned to your body in the water. “Notice what you notice,” he always told us when trying to help us master a new stroke technique.


Sharon Sloane, CEO of the training video company Will Interactive, told NYT interviewer Adam Bryant that she finishes every day with some “chair time.” That’s when she just sits quietly by herself at the end of the day, turns off her devices, and just lets the day “wash over” her. What really happened? What did she not pick up on in a meeting? Which dots didn’t get connected at the time?

Whether you’re in the water, on land, or in the air this month, take time out from the grind and notice what you notice. You’ll be glad you did.
Best, HB

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TAGS: Doug Stern, notice what you notice, Sharon Sloane, chair time, David Brooks, Adam Bryan, keeping a journal

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