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Sustained Attention

November 9, 2013

We are revising our workshop content, and I love the changes we’ve made. The approach is more positive, more affirming of work, and more active. In fact, our beta tests thus far have left our participants looking exhausted my mid-afternoon. After a session in Hawaii, I fell asleep restless. I couldn’t articulate what was bothering me about the way the day ended. When I awoke, the first two words that popped into my head were, “sustained attention.”

One of the central lessons we are teaching people is that, in an age of constant distraction and overwhelming amounts of information coming at us, we need to be able to give sustained attention to our work. And yet the second half of our workshop was a continuous feed of interruptions: a bit of direct instruction, some quick practice, a debrief, some video, find a new partner, on and on. We were not letting them practice what we were preaching. We need to provide them with some sustained attention to a new skill. I’m not talking about a day-long retreat or an hour-long work session. I think it’s hard these days to give something five minutes of focus.

The same issue has been dogging my lack of a writing practice. This post is an attempt to merge these two frustrations. I’m now going to look at my blogging as a place to practice sustained attention. I figure writing for five minutes is infinitely better than not writing at all.

This has actually taken more than ten minutes. I started on Tumblr, then decided this topic was WordPress worthy. I was briefly interrupted by the guy next to me on the plane here in Atlanta; he needed his charger for his phone while we’re still on the ground.

Here’s my challenge to myself: make a five-minute space in my day to write about something.

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