Norton: If you focus on the bad things, that’s all you’ll see (column)
Have you ever noticed what it is that you are actually paying attention to? For me, I recently realized that I was focusing on what was right in front of me and had lost a little of my peripheral vision and even a little of my peripheral perception. The bottom line: I stopped taking the time to stop and see and smell the roses.
One of my excuses I like to use is called “travel immunity.” Meaning I travel so often that sometimes I become immune to what is going on around me, getting caught up in the rush and crush of my schedule. If you have ever been running a little late and trying to catch a flight or a connection and you are racing through the airport, you might know what I mean. It’s head down, shoulders tilted to slide between the people who are not in a rush, deftly maneuvering carry-on luggage and a laptop bag, while laser-focused on getting to the gate on time. It’s an excuse, and even though there is absolute truth in it, it is a bad excuse.
One of my personal goals for this year is to be on time more often and not be so rushed. I’m trying to manage my calendar and my events and my customers so that I am fair to everyone. But I am doing it mostly so that I can get back to noticing what it is that I actually notice. And not just in an airport but everywhere in my life.
I love to look for the good things, the inspiring people, the loving couples or families, the sunrise or sunset, the ocean, and someone who happens to be helping another person, especially when it is a perfect stranger. It’s like walking through the supermarket and seeing a shorter person trying to reach the top shelf to get a specific item and noticing when a much taller young man or woman stops by and asks if they could help them. You see, those are the things I want to notice. Those are the things I choose to notice.
Now I am not saying turn a blind eye to everything else. If we see injustice, we need to do something about it. Even if it means we just go find help or call 911. What I am saying is that if we allow ourselves to focus on the bad things, it can become addictive, and the next thing we know, that is all we are noticing. We are the ones choosing to notice the negativity in the news or on the internet, the arguing, the barriers to success instead of the opportunities. I am simply making the choice not to allow my peripheral perception or vision to be corrupted. I would rather it be intentional about looking for the good.
Think about this question for just a moment, and ask yourself, “What is it that I am noticing these days?” Are you noticing more good than bad, or are you noticing more bad than good? It’s like asking the age-old question, “Is the glass half full or half empty?” But you see, it’s more than that. It’s knowing what gives you energy and enjoyment and what drives your passion and purpose. And when we know what those things are, we plan on seeking them out and noticing them more and more. And likewise, when we know what drags us down and takes the wind out of our sails and drains us emotionally, we stop paying any attention to any of those at all.
So how about you? Are you choosing to allow yourself to focus on what your eyes see, what your ears hear, and what brings you positive energy? I would love to hear your story at firstname.lastname@example.org and when we pay attention to the good stuff and pay more attention to noticing what we notice, it really will be a better than good week.
Michael Norton is the President of the Zig Ziglar Corporate Training Solutions Team, a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.