It was a beautiful thing. She brought such complete attention, that in her presence I could see his confidence expand. He stood taller. He played with more passion. It was as if she had the power to light him up from within.
This past weekend, as my kiddo was reacquainted with his keyboard and asked me to listen to him play every song he could remember, I couldn’t help but think of my friend Alise. My friend Alise visited last year and was, to date, his best audience yet. While I knew she was amazing, I couldn’t have anticipated the impact she would have on my son. The night she visited, after dinner, Jeremy decided to put on a concert. He played through his repertoire and we ooooh’d and ahhhhh’d and clapped in all the appropriate places.
After about 20 minutes into his concert, my husband and I grew restless, and retired into the living room (we had, after all, heard the same songs over-and-over-and-over again), but not Alise. She drew closer. Brandy in hand, she nestled into the hammock chair beside Jeremy’s keyboard and gave him her full attention. “Isn’t it magnificent how my fingers can do this?” he said, playing as fast as he could play, his confidence soaring as his humility wavered. “Yes! It is magnificent!” she replied. My husband and I sat laughing quietly in the living room as his music filled the air.
I remember sneaking in, a few minutes later, and watching them – my friend, rapt with attention, listening so intently to my child playing with such gusto. I recognized that look in his eyes; I had seen it before.
He felt seen.
When I teach, it’s the same look I see in my participants’ eyes when I’m talking with them one-on-one. When someone gives us their full attention – really sees us – it makes all the difference. Suddenly, the confidence we didn’t know we had comes to the surface, our natural abilities strengthened, passion unleashed. We feel more powerful. Able. Ready. When we feel truly seen, our best comes easily. There’s not a greater gift you can give someone than to give them your full attention. To see them – for real.
When we feel truly seen, our best comes easily. There’s not a greater gift you can give someone than to give them your full attention. To see them – for real.
And like it did for Jeremy, focused attention can fuel even greater performance. “You liked that?! Wait ’til you see this! And This! And THIS!”
Focused attention can fuel even greater performance.
Think about it from a leadership perspective. If your job is to ensure you’re are getting the best from the people you lead, to meet the goals of your organization, is there anything more important? What could your results be if the people on your team were truly confident, if they were leveraging their natural abilities, and brought passion to work? If they felt powerful? In a world where we’re going a million-miles-an-hour all day long, balancing 20 different things, with competing priorities and deadlines looming, it’s hard to give our full attention to anything or anyone. But maybe, just maybe, it’s worth trying.
These days, it’s hard to give our full attention to anything or anyone. But maybe, just maybe, it’s worth trying.
For we can grow older and wiser, more experienced, we can make more money, get a fancier title, look like we have it all together – but it doesn’t matter if you’re a little boy, a mom, a teacher, an entrepreneur, a volunteer, an individual contributor, or a CEO – as human beings deep down inside we really just want to know that we matter; that we’re seen.
As human beings deep down inside we really just want to know that we matter; that we’re seen.
Who can you give your full attention to today? You have the ability to make a bigger difference than you know.