Earlier this year I attended a 3 day on-line leadership conference. We had come out of level 4 Covid lock-down, so I took myself away in my parents motor-home to a campground with decent internet so I could dial into the online conference, and have a bit of piece and quiet away from the distractions of home. I needed focus. (And maybe a little break from my 'bubble people')
Day one of the conference started with a one hour guided meditation session. I logged in, and was ready to go, and excited for the day ahead. After a brief intro by our lovely instructor Cory, we were asked to close our eyes, practice breathing, deep, slow, in, out, focus on some bell sounds that he would gently ring, you get the drift. I started to settle in and every few minutes the dulcet tones of the instructor would gently interrupt and guide our next action. So, there I was, sitting at the table in my motor-home, with my laptop in front of me, eyes closed, meditating, being mindful. It felt good. I felt relaxed. My mind started to wander a little to the day ahead, and drift to other things that were occupying my thoughts at the time. I caught myself, and brought my thoughts back to the meditation session, eyes still closed. Sitting in silence.
As I sat there breathing, resting, clearing my mind, I thought to myself "I haven't heard the instructors voice for a little while, he must be giving us longer this time". I continued to sit, eyes closed, relaxing into my thoughts. I'm not sure how much time passed, but at some point I decided to crack one eye and take a look at the screen to see how much time was left, and if Cory still had his eyes closed too. When I did, I saw that my internet connection had dropped out, and I wasn't even logged into the session anymore! I'd been sitting there with my eyes shut, waiting for a voice, when I wasn't even bloody online!
Turns out I'd been absent for some time, and when I logged back into the session, they were just about to start wrapping up! I laughed to myself (and at myself) for sitting so long with my eyes closed, waiting for a voice, and not checking in sooner to the session.
How often do we subconsciously have our 'eyes closed', oblivious to what is going on right in front of us? Whether that is because you are sitting behind your desk all day, looking at a screen, or running between back to back meetings, or simply not taking the time to consciously 'crack one eye' and take the time to notice what is happening around you, with you, with your teams, with your colleagues.
One great habit to develop is the habit of reflection. Whether it is once a day, every second day, or once a week, it's important to reflect on what is happening within your team, and the individual people within it, and take a moment look and listen. Here are some useful questions: What am I seeing or not seeing? What bells are ringing? (metaphorically...), what am I hearing, or not hearing? What's going on for my people right now? Am I missing anything?
When you do this at an individual level, with specific team members, it builds up your 'noticing' muscle, and your ability to sometimes catch things before they get worse, or spot the good stuff that is happening and celebrate it.
I used to stop on my way home everyday at a park, just for 10 mins, and ask myself 4 questions:
What did I see/hear that today is a signal the team is working?
What did I see/hear that today is a signal the team is not working?
What can I do tomorrow to communicate and show that I am noticing?
Is there anyone in particular that might need my time right now?
How often are you reflecting on your days? How much do you really notice what is happening around you and the signals that your team are sending? Or has your 'internet dropped out' and needs a reboot?
1 Learning: Deliberate noticing and reflection builds awareness.
1 Opportunity: Create the habit of noticing and reflecting.
1 Action: Set aside some 'noticing time' this week. Look around, listen, eyes open, away from your screen, and capture what you are seeing and hearing. Then, spend some time reflecting on what you can do about it, and take action.
Get busy noticing!!