Attention is the answer to most things. It seems to have been a common theme that I just keep coming back to. My PhD studies were essentially about attention. I studied the effects of attention and predictive accuracy. Basically, when things were less predictable, subjects attend more to try to work out what is going on so that they can reduce the level of uncertainty they are experiencing. Now, in business and leadership development, I promote the significance of attention in focusing on the ‘real work’, the issue that needs to be tackled in order to change things.
Now, this week, I was reading through some of the research work being done by my daughter Beth. She studies Sports Psychology (like father like daughter!) and is working on models such as conscious process hypothesis (CPH) and attentional threshold hypothesis (ATH). What I can ascertain is that when people focus in on aspects of a complex task (such as a golf swing, or a high jump technique), their performance can be impaired due to the fact that they have lost the ‘flow’ of the process. Better to think about things holistically than specifically. So, in golf, it is better to think swing easy, or relax, rather than on specifics like straighten your arm, snap your wrist etc.
I am running my first marathon in 2 weeks time. This is really timely assistance to me. I will try to avoid thinking about my knee, my ankle, my calf, my heart, my lungs or any individual piece of my running action. Instead I will concentrate on the ‘Big Picture’. The achievement, the atmosphere, feeling good, the reward at the end and so on. Bring it on !!!!