By Mark Rounds, VP of Corporate Development
When I started in the workforce, there were no cell phones or fax machines. Pagers were the hot new gadget, but only doctors could afford that technology. The thing was, if you were out of the office, you were gone! If my supervisor was golfing, the only way I could get in touch with him was to call the clubhouse and have them drive out to him with a message. Of course, I never did that (you didn’t want to interrupt a business golf outing). And then when my supervisor was in the office, he was usually tied up in meetings or on the phone. It was difficult to get his time. When I did have his time, I was very efficient in what we discussed so as not to waste his precious time. Time is money, you know!
Today we have oodles of ways to instantly communicate with each other. Email, text messages, social media and phone calls can find us if we have our mobile phone. There are even tracking devices that can tell others exactly where we are. It is now difficult to be “gone.” The mobile revolution has made it possible for us to spend more time with others. It is easier to accept a golf invitation because you’re not really “gone” and anyone can communicate with you if they need you. But now there is a more precious commodity than time: attention. Today it easier to get people’s time, but it seems difficult for them to pay attention.
We’ve all seen it. People are in a meeting (giving their time) but they are on their computer or mobile device answering “urgent” messages and not paying attention to what is happening at the meeting. They will tell you that they are proficient at multi-tasking, but the reality is that multi-tasking is a myth. It isn’t multi-tasking, it is rapidly alternating attention between two or more stimuli. Studies have shown that multi-tasking takes longer than doing one task completely followed by the next task. But mostly, not paying attention is insulting to the other members at the meeting.
I also see it at children events. Mom and Dad are sitting in the stands but looking at their phones. Sure, you are spending time with the kids, but are you giving them your attention? And what about the people walking down the street looking at their phones? YouTube is filled with funny videos of blunders made when people do not pay attention.
So if time is money, what is attention? In my opinion, attention is golden! It is what each of us craves, yet few actually provide. Attention gives you the ability to identify and relate to another human being. The next time someone asks for your time, give them your time AND attention. Turn off your computer, turn off your mobile device and give the other person what they really need, your attention. You both will be glad you did!