I run a private university and a division of a large corporation, I am a speaker at conferences, I raise two children, and I go to the gym. When do I do it all?
There is no secret.
I don't get everything done.
I only get to do the things that are truly important.
How do you determine what is important to you when there are thousands of brands, corporations, social media, even smart home appliances fighting for our attention every day? Like many people, I order grocery deliveries and then get hundreds of push notifications about discounts and promotions, I'm part of parent and neighbor chats that buzz around the clock and demand participation, and online apps remind me to make an appointment for a routine checkup or pay my taxes.
Because of so much information flow, our attention is constantly unfocused. And intentionally bringing it back to what makes sense is one of the main skills that will help us not drown in the sea of information and do what really matters.
Attention is not the only skill that helps us remain resilient to an external world that is changing at an enormous rate. There are five such skills in total. I also call them "the five superpowers" or "the 5B technique. Or meta-skills. These are the qualities of a person that underlie all of his other qualities. If you imagine all human skills as a matryoshka doll, the meta-skills are at the very core.
Meta-skills are increasingly needed to remain resilient in a fast-changing world where you constantly have to retrain and live at "higher speeds." Our consumption of information has changed critically over the past 6 years.
According to Mediascope, in April 2022 the average Russian will spend 3 hours and 40 minutes online daily. As a consequence, wherever people are, it is as if they are in a square in a crowd, where there is noise and clamor. The information that comes to us triggers the production of appropriate hormones and microdoses of stimulants.
The will controls attention, and depending on how strong your will is, you can focus your attention. Or it will sputter between messengers, tasks, and colleagues. When we live in a world where we spend so much time on the Internet, it shifts our attention, it's disruptive. With the people I work with, the people I meet for work, and the students I teach, this fractured attention spans really interfere with communication.
It has become difficult for people to keep their attention on one thing. And if a person can't hold their attention, they don't form a clear enough view of some issue or some task or variation of that task. As a result, one becomes ineffective, hence discontent with oneself, depression, inability to break through the glass ceiling.
The key skills of any leader are: the will, faith, attention, perception and imagination. Imagination allows us to form an image of the future under conditions of high uncertainty. When we do not understand what will happen tomorrow, we really need someone to form an image of the future and say: will be so, come with me. The role of the leader is to form such an image of the future.
When I do something, I have total faith in what I am doing. It is faith that triggers all other processes, because when I'm confronted with some situations where I have no faith, the will weakens. It's easy to get sidetracked here. Faith is activated by meaning, if you see meaning in some activity, you believe. Faith activates the will, but further the will and attention must be trained.
Attention is controlled by willpower. We can direct it where we want it to go. But where and how does the will go? This, in turn, depends on faith (not only in the religious sense, but also faith in the idea, the image that you want to arrive at).
When you believe, you can control your will, and the will already includes attention (or rather brings it back into your control).