Our last blog post tried to get you in touch the sweeping changes and improvements in our world.
But that raised for us a personal question framed by the Greek concept of entelechy.
The impulse to become better, something more, to become all that you can be, is that impulse the Greeks, most notably Aristotle, challenges us to ask what are we working on?
What gets attention grows and what gets attention gets invested with intention.
I posed the question what are you giving attention to?
Let’s break it down. How does this principle of attention and intention work?
If you decide to act on the quiet background desire (the attention that has finally “gotten your attention”) that you've always had to paint, or learn a new foreign language, or even to become the best in your industry, this is where “when you act” you are moving from the idea your attention has fiddled with, to genuinely acting on it, to actually do something.
The more you think about this (attention) and the more “excited” you get to engage this new territory, the more energy is invested in making it so (intention).
What often happens though is we never move from attention to intention. From something hitting our awareness horizon to us giving it focused energy.
What thing has been floating around vying for your attention in the background muzak of our life that should really get focused energy?
Because I am spending lots of my coaching practice time with clients wanting to optimize their health this is a ready illustration for me.
It is not enough to say, “it has hit my attention that sugar is the best host site for cancer and that sugar might be the most addictive everyday drug in 90% of all products on grocery store shelves.” Great information. Correct information. Carbohydrate/sugar addiction is responsible for 2/3 of all Americans being terribly overweight and 1/3 morbidly so. But until attention gets coupled with focused energy to act, plot, plan and execute, that fact will remain part of the swirling mass of information in your head.
So what is in your attentional field of awareness?
That you need to dial in your health?
That you need to join the 5 am club, go to bed earlier and cut out TV to increase your learning inputs?
That you need to carve out more time for relationships and invest in those that matter most?
That you need to get a grip on your temper, or your stress level, or anxiety?
What do you need to focus intention on?
Let me give you a little memory trick from one of the great researchers of our day, Gabrielle Oettingen, from her book Rethinking Positive Thinking (an incredibly important book even for parents teaching their childrend!) It is called the WOOP method.
W - Then what is the wish?
O - What does the outcome feel like? What does the desired future look like in high definition color? What would be happening if this outcome occurred
O - What are the possible obstacles? - This is an important and counterintuitive step. And this is the big contribution of her research. If all we do is focus on the outcome we will miss the crucial preparation necessary to overcome the challenge when it presents itself. People that engage this step are vastly more successful achieving their intended outcome because they have anticipated that things will not go off pain or glitch free!
P- And last, what is the plan as those obstacles crop up you will use to step over, around, under or through them. You can see why the “plan” comes last after the “obstacle.” You build into your execution plan the steps necessary to overcome the potential glitches you have anticipated.
You will hit lack of motivation when the verbs get too complicated in learning the new language. You will have evenings when reverting to eating a whole row of Oreos just sounds good. You will have times that you would rather veg in front of the TV at 9:00 pm instead of going to bed so you can get up at 5 am and crush a workout so BDNF sets up your brain to be sharper and smarter than those around you. No one should be surprised that these thing WILL happen.
But when you WOOP your intention… the game changes and you change…and you move from being average toward being a “A” player!