Paying Attention

Like a lot of people, I spend a fair amount of time reading my favorite blogs and following friends and colleagues on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.  I have even been guilty of reading emails or texting while on the phone (not my proudest moment, for sure).  In this age of communication, with such a wide variety of technology available, doesn’t it seem unusual when you encounter someone who doesn’t really use it?  Perhaps a better descriptor is the “age of distraction”?  Because, honestly, I can’t say that the quality of my communications has improved, but the frequency certainly has.

With this in mind, I was in the audience of a meeting where Margie Blanchard shared how she begins her day.  She told us that each morning, she asks herself four questions:

  • What am I excited about?
  • What am I proud of?
  • What am I thankful for?
  • Who loves me and who do I love?

The self-reflection from paying attention to these four questions, gives her perspective and clarity in her interactions throughout the day.  Listening carefully to discover how these four things might be important to others builds trust and rapport over time.  It’s no wonder that paying attention is a key step in building a coaching relationship with team members.  The questions are simple, but I have found that in thinking about them, my communications have become more intentional and helped me rediscover the joy of thoughtful solitude…even though I am still tempted to tweet about it.


After a recent conversation, I realized that the word success carries a lot of baggage.  It’s not a soft word by any means.  For many, including the person I was talking with, successful leaders are difficult, self-interested, argumentative, and disruptive.  They pursue their goals with singular ambition.  If you look at success solely through that lens, then the workplace becomes a tough environment to thrive in (unless, of course, you are said leader). 

What about another set of adjectives?  What if we flipped the descriptors of success around and defined it in terms of collaboration, harmony, contribution and dedication?  When you look at success through those terms it creates an environment that supports teamwork.  And, teamwork that is well focused creates synergy which provides the fuel for innovation and creativity.  It also creates a workplace where people are fully engaged and who are empowered to do their best work.

Success means many different things to people.  How do you define success?  How do you model success in your company, business unit or team?