As simple as this may sound, it is part of what has made me so successful growing up. The simplest acts are often missed because we are simply too busy to pay attention to anything going around us, especially if it seems like it doesn’t directly impact us. Awareness trumps education in my opinion, and based on my studies in Third Circle Theory, awareness creates more billionaires than education, however, awareness is a very deep topic and a prerequisite to being aware is your ability to simply observe.
While most of my posts are philosophical in nature, some of them are actionable with a more direct call to action; like the one you are about to read today. Since observing is a daily act, it only makes sense that we become better observers so we can leverage our growth and increase our ability to become more self-aware (the greatest level of awareness is self-awareness.)
How do you become more observant?
Slow down: One of the main mistakes many people make in their lives is their constant need to accomplish the objective at hand, rather than to live for the action of completing the objective.
If you have to buy milk, you go to the supermarket and hope there are no long checkout lines, or that parking is a breeze. All of that is so you can be home faster to do nothing more than what you were doing before you left.
Instead, slow down and try to make the experience of buying milk as much of a learning as you can. Slow down, and pay attention to who else is in the store at the same times, what types of cars are in the parking lot, and also take a moment and interact with all aspects of your environment with your eyes.
Look around you before you act: While slowing down is essential, the next step is your ability to leverage your eyes during that time between the observation and the action.
Assume you are pumping gas in your car, then simply stop and look around you at other people at the gas station, cars parked, and anything else around you BEFORE you actually do the pumping itself. This may seem useless, but once again your observations are recorded in your head and patterns will be created. Just look around.
Look, don’t listen: You have always been told you shut up and listen, but in this case I am telling you to look with your eyes, not your ears. I’ll give you a great example.
There was a guy at the gas station cleaning his car 15 feet away with really loud music blasting. All eyes were on this person, no matter what car you were in, you were simply drawn to the loudness. BY looking with your ears, you simply are following the environment and what it wants you to see, rather than everything else that may matter that is going on simultaneously.
Don’t allow loud distractions to stop you from keeping your eyes on your surroundings, rather than one direction.
Look for the new: Pay attention to things you haven’t seen before rather than allowing your eyes to focus on the familiar. Part of the reason many never reach their potential is their constant focus in their life is centered around seeing and doing all the same things.
It starts with your ability to observe different things, which is then followed by your ability to explore new grounds. Don’t allow familiarity to keep you from looking at the unknown.
Connect patterns: Part of the reason why observant people are more effective in business and in life is their ability to connect patterns. Many of today’s best marketers understand how people make buying decisions in their industry and tailor the message and positioning of their product in a way that is too difficult to pass up for a consumer.
Connecting the dots usually happens based upon countless observations that are witnessed time and time again, allowing the brain to focus on why they are happening, rather than notice the same things again. Identifying patterns is very powerful and allows you to understand why people are predictable and why they buy in the same fashion.
Your observations are more powerful than you think and all you have to do in order to grow is pay attention and look. For more awareness training especially in the context of business, check out Third Circle Theory.