Sunday, February 6, 2011

CHOOSE! – Paying Attention in a Fragmented World

The other day, in a story about returning Google CEO Larry Page, NPR reporter Laura Sydell was interviewing Ken Auletta, author of "Googled: The End of the World As We Know It," about Page's notorious lack of social skills. 

Barry Diller
Auletta recalled the first time Page met media mogul Barry Diller. The whole time Diller was trying to talk, Page was looking down, typing away on his PDA. Diller called him on it. "Larry, I'm trying to talk. Can you just converse with me?" Page replied, "It's OK, Barry, I can do both. I can look at this device and talk to you." Diller insisted: "No, no, Larry, choose!" Page, eyes still on his PDA, replied, "I choose this."

Wow! At least the guy knows his priorities.

We all encounter this kind of choice every day. In fact, with the horde of communications gadgets and media chasing us around, the assault, for some poor souls, is nearly constant. So what's wrong with that?

If there's one piece of advice I'd give to anyone who wants to be more aware, curious and appreciative, it's this: do one thing at a time and do it all the way.

As little as some people seem to appreciate it, choosing one thing means not choosing something else. If you go for a walk while you're on the phone, either you're paying attention to the call or you're noticing what's going on around you. Not both. Okay, maybe you can go back and forth—a sort of serial awareness—but that still only puts you 50 percent in touch with either pursuit.

It doesn't matter what you're doing; if you subscribe to the multi-tasking myth, you're missing more than you may know. You're squandering creative inspirations. You're failing to get to know people at more than a superficial level. You're putting yourself beyond the reach of those little instincts that guide us now and then. You're looking right past a world of little miracles playing out all around you.

Do you want to truly experience such rich experiences or will you settle for their being just background music for what you're really doing?

If there's one piece of advice I'd give to anyone who wants to be more aware, curious and appreciative, it's this: do one thing at a time and do it all the way. That's what wonder is all about, being present, allowing yourself to be fully in the moment with whatever it is you're doing.

That, my friends, is the modest price of admission to a world of wonder.


Everett said...

And I always felt that I was inadequate because I can only focus on one thing at a time. I also find that that any one thing cannot be done in a predetermined amount of time, it is done in it's own time. What can be done in exactly a one hour meeting? How long is a sun set? How long does it take to develop an idea?

Jeffrey Willius said...

Yes, primo, I understand that feeling of inadequacy. Sounds like we're both coming to realize that being able to be totally present and patient may actually have something to with exactly what it means to be adequate.

Anonymous said...

great words that speak to me today... and hopefully onwards...

Jeffrey Willius said...

faith creature -- Hey Sommer -- thanks for your encouraging comment! I'm so glad you've found something of meaning here!

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