I’ve been practicing meditation off and on for the past 6 months or so. While I have no intention of being “that guy” and beating you into taking up the practice, I would like to share one very important thought that I continue to have.

During certain types of meditation, you are trying to focus and hone your attention to notice everything, as it happens, in the present. Every sound, every smell, every feeling. This consciousness of where you focus is about more than simply relaxation.

During this period, where you try to focus intently on being present, you are challenged by a constant stream of thoughts competing for your attention. This can include news that you read, tasks you need to complete, concerns you have, and the list goes on…

So, at a fundamental level, you come to realize that every single thing that you give attention to, is given safe passage into your mind and these thoughts are then able to present themselves at any time, often without your conscious desire.

What you give your attention to really matters.

Did you know?

In Mumbai, an IAS officer was transferred after posting controversial tweet on Mahatma Gandhi. Did you know about that?

Probably not. Why not?

A fact like that probably has no place in your daily thoughts because you are not likely giving your attention to local news in Mumbai… unless you are one of my readers who lives there, you have family there, or have a special interest in Mumbai-related stories.

But, if you live in the United States, you probably know plenty about US News. If you’re like me, you probably know a little too much about the MCU. If you’re like some of my friends, you probably know a little too much about this season of The Bachelorette.

Depending on what apps you use, what news you read, who your friends are, and how much you deliberately and selectively ignore, our inputs can vary greatly from person to person.

The troubling part is that there is a paradox about attention, wherein the things most likely to get our attention are often the least likely to be deserving of it in the context of building a better and more equitable world.

Choosing Attention

A healthy exercise would be to ask yourself how many of the thoughts that occupy your attention are deliberately put there, by YOU.

Examine how many, by contrast, are thrust upon you by circumstances. How much of your attention is being guided by your inaction to curate what you focus on.

We should all think more about things that have our attention, because unless we’re deliberate about those inputs, we’re letting others control how we think and potentially letting bad ideas stay in our minds rent free.

What does this have to do with Marketing or Leadership?

If you’re a marketer, you need to understand the finite limits of attention. You have to choose how much you attempt to hack that system for your own benefit.

As a leader, you must be careful with your interactions. The greater the number of negative experiences you have with a team member, the more difficult it will be to change how those people perceive you, and hence the more challenging it becomes to lead.

Attention matters. Your attention, your spouse’s attention, your friends attention, your team’s attention…our collective attention. Maybe the first step is getting some agreement on what we collectively want, and then shifting our collective attention.

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