This morning we were in line at a coffee shop waiting to get the large lattes we just ordered. There were two lines on opposite sides of the shop where orders were being taken. One line had five people in it and the other line was completely empty. The person behind the register called out several times to get people to move over to the empty queue. No one was paying attention. No one moved.
How many opportunities do you miss because you are in line and are not paying attention to the world around you? More than education, computer savvy, or strategic thinking, being aware of the environment and being prepared to respond is a success skill that many people overlook.
- See – observe your environment, don’t just exist within it. The Bourne series of movies is a thrill a minute. One of the impressive “skills” demonstrated repeatedly by Jason Bourne is his ability to pay attention and see things that other people miss. Another example of impressive observation is Vin Diesel’s character in the diner scene of XXX. He is put into a simulated environment where he sees all the details that are out of place that alert him something strange is going on. The world around us is constantly presenting opportunities and raising warning signals. We need to really see rather than looking with unobservant eyes.
- Hear – listen with purpose. You are inundated with information and noise. You have the power to tune in to information that matters. Have you trained your ears to listen for the details that are relevant to you? Do you listen for content and meaning or do you hear people and hope that they finish and move on? Practice listening with the purpose of deeper understanding. You will get more out of conversations than just information, you will build trust and increase your effectiveness.
- Connect – if you are observing the world around you and listening with purpose, you must also make connections between the information you are gathering and your life. In The Accidental Creative, Todd Henry shares the concept of “The Big 3.” These are three things you need to gain creative traction. These are not actions and many not be particularly urgent. They represent open conceptual loops where you are looking for new insights. That way when you see or hear something that can connect to your ideas and take them to the next level you don’t miss out. Solutions, innovation and creativity often comes from unexpected connections. The more you are prepared to see and hear the unexpected, the greater your success through connecting to your Big 3.
Are you familiar with the God, helicopter and two boats joke? This is a perfect example of missing the obvious and not taking advantage of an opportunity!
You have the unprecedented capacity to be in a state of perpetual distraction. Overcome the distractions by developing your success skill of awareness and observation in order to be ready to respond to the opportunities around you. Don’t miss your chance to jump a line!