From Curiosity to Attention

“You had my curiosity. But now you have my attention.”                                              as spoken by Leonardo DiCaprio’s character (Calvin Candie) in the move ‘Django Unchained’

“Be curious” is a very popular term used widely within the coaching fraternity.  It is of course great advice, as it encourages people to ‘simply notice’, without judgement, and with an open questioning mind. Being curious helps raise self-awareness. It also encourages one to consider and reflect on things that may otherwise go unnoticed. However, merely ‘being curious’, in itself, is unlikely to create the sufficient mental conditions for significant learning and change to occur. To achieve this, generalised curiosity needs to be cranked up to a state of sharply focused ‘attention’.

Being curious is the equivalent to being a casual ‘observer’ of the game. Having focused attention requires you become completely ‘immersed’ in the game.

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I have touched on this subject many times in the past, most notably in Slow Down, you Move too Fast.  Before getting to agreements that something needs done about a problem, and long before specific actions are decided upon, it is vital that high levels of attention are shone on the issue. People simply do not agree to take action on situations unless they first of all recognise that it is important enough to do so, and that there are high enough stakes at play to make it worthwhile. If the problem is complex, challenging, emotional or dangerous, then people will typically do all they can to deflect and divert attention onto other, simpler and less painful issues. Ironically, this is the point at which everything is primed for maximum learning and change to take place. It can be hard work, it may be time-consuming (and there will no doubt be pressure to push on and move to action).

Effective leaders recognise the significance of these moments, and do not bow to the pressure and temptation to move on.  They will:

  • use the constructive tension of the moment to help concentrate attention on the problem
  • explain that agreeing action without adequately agreeing on the ‘real work’ required will be unlikely to result in sustained change
  • know that it is the internal discomfort felt at this stage that results in the neural activity that promotes ‘real’ changes in thinking and behaviour.

So, ‘Be Curious’, by casting your flood-light far and wide, and move on to select what is in need of most ‘Attention’, and focus your brightest and sharpest beam there to drive lasting learning and change.

If you feel that you or members of your management team could benefit from exploring areas that can make substantial improvements to your personal and collective effectiveness and productivity, please do get in touch. Simply submit your contact details on the Contact Us page and I will be delighted to get in touch with you for an informal initial chat.


1 thought on “From Curiosity to Attention

  1. Pingback: From Curiosity to Attention | People Discovery

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