I realized at an early age that when it came to competition, I was never going to be the fastest, or the strongest, or the smartest.
Fortunately, I also realized, around the same time, that there were certain things that I could work on and ultimately be as good at as any other competitor out there, particularly when it came to living life.
It is always important to be aware of your shortcomings, but when they are only shortcomings because you are comparing your abilities with others, it is equally important to not allow your awareness of those shortcomings to stunt your growth. In other words, not being the fastest or the strongest is very different than not being as fast or as strong as you can be.
If you focus on what you can do versus what you cannot, you will always create an advantage for yourself. You cannot now nor will you ever be able to control someone else’s workout routine, diet, or work ethic. You can only control your own. So, if you focus your efforts on yourself and you do not spend time worrying about what someone else is doing or not doing, you will automatically have more time and energy to devote to the pursuits that are truly important to you.
One of the more powerful tools that you can fully control and develop is your personal power of observation. Refining and honing your observation skills will directly and immediately improve your ability to focus, organize, plan, and most importantly enjoy your life.
When you effectively pay attention to your surroundings and the environment in which you operate, you will be more aware of how and why things are happening.
When you are more aware of what is happening around you, you will be in a better position to organize your thoughts toward what you should or should not be doing in relation to those happenings.
When you have your thoughts organized, you can put a plan in place that places you in the best possible position to succeed today and going forward.
When you are following your own plan, you are much more likely to enjoy your life because you are making your own decisions and creating your own consequences.
If you make it a point to actively observe the people who you work with on a daily basis, you will gain perspective as to who they really are, what motivates them, and where you might share some common ground. When you have a handle on these things, you can figure out how to work together and ways in which their strong suits will compliment and supplement yours.
This type of awareness is a very powerful attribute to utilize if you wish to be an effective leader. When your words and your actions accurately reflect the thoughts and motives of those around you, people will want to work with you and even follow you. When those around you follow you naturally as opposed to simply being told to follow you, the bond that you share and the teamwork you produce together will be much more significant than anything that is artificially generated.
Purposeful observation will not only help you in your career, it will help you to be a better family member, friend, and ultimately a better person. If you know that someone you care about needs an encouraging word because you were alert to their mood, you can take action that ensures you are the one delivering that needed encouragement.
When you demonstrate the meaning that others have to you and in your life, those same people will often reciprocate in the emphasis they place on you and the things that are important to you. Family ties can be more meaningful and friendships can be more rewarding.
The act of effective observation can also directly enhance your own life’s experiences. The more you are aware of the events in which you participate, the more vivid your memory of that event will be.
Do you sometimes wonder why certain conversations or circumstances are easier to remember than others? Many times, it boils down to whether or not you were paying full attention at the time the conversation or event was taking place. The more attention you pay at the time an event is occurring, the easier that event will be to remember.
If you remember your past more vividly, you will create memories that are more fulfilling and useful to you. As an example, if you remember specifics about a decision that went wrong, you will be far less likely to make that same mistake in the future. Conversely, if you specifically remember how great it felt when a particular decision you made helped you to achieve success, you will be far more likely to appreciate that success and go after it with even more determination the next time.
Observation is a key component of participation, and being an active participant in your career and your life is so much more rewarding and fulfilling than when you are standing on the sideline as a disinterested bystander.
Just like so many things in life, it is up to you to make your power of observation a priority. It will take some work and determination on your part, but the payoff is totally worth it!
This article is part of Scott Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.