NOT MORE TIME… BUT MORE ATTENTION

August 12, 2022

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“Attention is the cash value of your time” - Sam Harris

I love this line. I believe it carries a lot of insight into how we can all be more effective in our lives.

There is a fundamental importance of being very intentional with our attention, not just our time. You can schedule family time, but if your attention is elsewhere, it’s not going to result in real family bonding. You can show up for a meeting, but if your mind is elsewhere, why even bother?

In the business world, I can see that people are often very intentional about their time… but less so with their attention.

We decide what they want to do, schedule their activities, and are very disciplined about keeping that structure. At the 30min mark… it’s time to wrap up. While this is better than being totally undisciplined about time, I think it misses a key point.

Schedules are nothing but planning exercises that reflect how we would like to focus our energies. But every day brings new information. Meetings run long and assignments run long. Important new issues call for our attention. Another leading character of our era, Mike Tyson, aptly said that everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.

My easiest takeaway here is that I need to be ruthless about cutting distractions. I’ve worked on this for years, but it’s a daily practice I need to stay on top of forever. We all need to watch out for the things that seem interesting but don’t take us where we want to go. The world will always supply more tempting distractions and time sucks.

Not everything we put on the calendar is equally important and even our real priorities change over time. Recently, I’ve been working on raising a new fund for Alliance and laying the groundwork to really grow the company. This has changed many of my priorities and that means I need to give my attention to different things.

As long as the things we pay attention to are worth investing in, there is no need to feel frustrated about changing plans. The key is to be deliberate and put our attention where it really belongs.

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