Just think about this:

We are the product of our attention. Everything we actively do or accomplish is the result of where and how we have paid attention.

I find these thoughts pretty staggering because it feels like there can be a disconnect between what we do in the moment and the bigger picture. Allowing ourselves to be distracted by a ping or notification, or indeed the mere presence of a phone on a desk, is essentially robbing us of our life blood one moment at a time.

The invitation is thus to become very curious about where we place our attention and to what ends. The question is phrased negatively to encourage reflection around the fact that we can only ever pay attention to a tiny portion of the infinite range of possibilities.

In saying Yes to one thing, we are essentially saying No to a universe of other options. At the very minimum, it feels like every Yes needs to nourish us – to energise us in some way.

The question also invites curiosity as to what possibilities might be waiting for us were we to be truly present in each moment. Attention is clearly not a binary on / off. We can certainly deepen our attention and hence our experience of life. It is thus not just where we pay attention but also how we pay attention. As David Whyte, the poet notes, “Learning to pay deep attention is an art.

Questions in the Image:

  • To what do I not pay attention?
  • How do I pay attention?
  • Where might I pay more attention?

Want to Read More Around This Topic?

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (link to Amazon.co.uk). This book emphasizes the importance of focusing on what truly matters in order to achieve meaningful results across your world. It provides actionable advice on how to eliminate distractions and prioritize tasks that align with your long-term vision.

Nurturing Curiosity – Daily Practice: This is part of the Nurturing Curiosity series of tools, insights and questions designed to help nurture curiosity as part of our daily practice. In point of fact, every interaction we have is an opportunity to question what we are observing and how we and others are seeing the world. Also remember that questions come in many forms throughout our day – today’s question for example keeps swirling in my mind as it has deeper implications: Even when I pay attention in a given moment, how present am I? How might I be distracting myself and thereby reducing the intensity of the experience?

What Thoughts Would You Like to Share? My name is Tom O’Leary, and I envision a world in which curiosity shapes leadership. In this world, leaders aren’t boxed in by traditional thinking or established playbooks. They are open to fresh ideas and diverse perspectives, fostering a culture of exploration and learning. My mission is to shift leadership focus from authority, over-measurement and control to curiosity, learning and innovation, empowering leaders to prioritise the essential. My journey, lived in a number of countries and through various languages, has always been driven by a profound sense of curiosity. In fact, life has taught me that possibility lies not so much in seeking answers but in learning to ask better questions – the ones that help prioritise what is truly essential. I welcome your thoughts, feedback, or personal experiences related to these questions or any insights they may have sparked.