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Strategic Thinking: Narrowing Your Attention Span

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help you filter distractions in your decision making.

      Hank Aaron became baseball’s all-time home run hitter with the help of a well-developed ritual that narrowed and sharpened his attention span.

Hank Aaron on deck

Hank Aaron held the career home run record for 33 years until 2007

        After swinging a bat in the on-deck circle, Aaron would take off his baseball cap. Then through one of the small holes (air vents) in his cap, he would stare at the pitcher. The small holes helped Aaron more carefully frame his view, focus his attention and filter distractions to better prepare to meet the pending challenge in the batter’s box.

        I wish I had a magic hat like that to better focus my attention and filter out distractions as I prepared for a specific initiative. But I usually feel like I’m wearing a mesh hat with hundreds of holes like a sieve. No wonder information flows into and out of my attention span like a Flood of Facebook Likes or Tsuami of Tweets and Texts. Too much too fast.

       Now before major decisions, I like to sit back and mentally squint at the problem, trying to narrow the focus. I know that the better I can filter out the distractions, the more effective I will be. Narrowing, my attention span  and separating the wheat from the chaff is a critical leadership skill that I have to consistently work on. With enhanced precision comes enhanced performance, like the Hindu story of the Master Archer who is teaching a student to hit the target – a bird made out of a straw hung from a tree.

  The Tighter The Focus The Better The Performance

      “What do you see?” asks the master of the first student. “The tree and the bird, the bow and the arrow, my arm and you,” the student answers. The master dismisses the student. A second student is summoned, “What do you see? the master asks. “I see a bird,” the student says. “Describe the bird,” the master insists. “I can’t,” says the student. “I see only his neck.” The master gives the student permission to shoot. The tighter the focus the better the performance.

     In narrowing my attention span, I like to think of myself like the homeowner closing off heating vents in certain rooms to focus more energy into a specific room, funneling the same amount of heat into an even smaller more concentrated, more focused space. Have you ever noticed that the warmest room in your house is the smallest (aka narrowest) room? Make room for that kind of limited focus to warm your thinking and bless your decision making and you won’t have to wear a “holy” hat. (I look forward to learning how you narrow your attention span and enhance your decision making process. Please use the Comments section below.

Today’s ImproveMINT
Narrow your focus to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

You might also like these previous Leadership Mints on Strategic Thinking:

Taking the Scum of your Mind

Broadening your Funnel Vision

Igniting 60,000 Thoughts Every Day

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2 Responses

  1. […] Narrowing Your Attention Span Beware of the Day-Dream Invasion Beware of Jumping to Conclusions […]

  2. […] Beware of Jumping to Conclusions Taking the Scum off Your Mind Narrowing Your Attention Span […]

When REPLYing, send TO PeterJeff@charter.net.

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