Undivided Attention

By Scott Westerman

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” – Maya Angelou

Listen to an audio version of this message.

It was the highest complement I could receive. Whenever I have the privilege of speaking with a large group, I always love feedback. “Texting, Tweeting, Facebooking and Emailing are encouraged. Share what resonates with others.” At the conclusion of my time with an amazing group of student government members from across the State of Michigan, one of the kids in the front row said, “I know you told us we could text. I almost always do it. But for me, this was quality time. It deserved my undivided attention.”

It’s easy to lose focus in a relationship. Our distractions are many. Our allotted time is often too brief. It’s easy to let your mind jump ahead to what’s next on your schedule, or ponder a pressing problem.

Fight it.

The best gift you can give another person is your undivided attention.

The people I like most make me feel like I’m the most important person in the room. And  I’ve come to love bestowing that honor on others with equal joy. It can be hard work. Not everything someone says is interesting. Sometimes you are saddled with the inevitability of an unpleasant interaction. Sometimes the other person doesn’t reciprocate.

In these moments, I remember the wisdom of my friend Steve Schram, “You don’t have to behave ‘down’ to someone else’s level.”

Take the higher road. Be more professional and more attentive. Honor them with a total connection. Make eye contact. Be an active listener. Realize that everyone has the need to be understood and appreciated. Put yourself in that place and behave accordingly.

And what about Quality Time?

“Anybody,” writes Louise Lague, “who knows the difference between the kind of conversation you have walking in the woods and the kind of conversation you have between the segments of a show on Nickelodeon can tell you that quality time exists.”

You’ll naturally have to invest a good portion of your daily energy in goal achieving activities that move your life forward. But never forget to nurture those relationships that are most important to you.. with your quality time.

Angel Chernoff, one half of the inspirational team at marcandangel.com advises us to focus on people, “..who truly love you, motivate you, encourage you, enhance you, and make you happy. If you know people who do none of these things, let them go.”

Remember that the phrase is “quality time” and not “quantity time”. You can create more happiness in a quality moment than in a year of preoccupation.

So do your best to be fully present. Listen closely, judge gently, forgive quickly and love deeply, especially when you feel like doing the exact opposite.

Maximize the quality moments. Prioritize people who care. And give them your undivided attention. They will return the favor.

Feedback is always welcome to scott@spartanology.com.