Jane Pollak is a favorite blogger and author of mine (Jane Pollak: Leading remarkable women to uncommon success), because she understands that personal and professional success comes from paying attention to others and bringing value to all your relationships.
Today's post on her blog, entitled What do you notice?, was a powerful reminder to anyone that the things we notice say a great deal about us. What interested me particularly about this idea is not only the reminder that we need to pay closer attention to our clients, prospects and loved ones — their needs and wants — but that we can learn a lot about ourselves (for good or bad) by paying attention to what we notice. This struck me as a helpful tool for someone trying to understand themselves better, especially if they are trying to identify their own strengths, their aptitudes, or their niche in life or business.
Start paying attention to what you notice and think about what you can learn about yourself. Take notes and spend some time later going over those notes. You'll be amazed at things you've missed simply because you weren't paying attention to the things you were noticing (I'm smiling as I write that).
- Do you notice people's emotions, e.g., whether they seem happy, unhappy or distracted?
- Do you notice how people look or how they act or what they're wearing?
- Do you read things and notice ways they could have been written more clearly?
- Do you notice things in a store and think of ways they could have been designed to be more useful?
- Do you notice bright, vibrant colors, or are you drawn to muted tones and pastels?
- Do you notice how you feel in different situations and what things energize you, excite you, or burden you?
- Do you notice those less fortunate than yourself and find yourself longing to help them?
- Have you noticed whether you work better alone or with others?
- Have you noticed how you feel when you encounter a problem? Do you itch to solve it or look for a way around it?
- Does complexity inspire or frustrate you?
Each of these things could be telling you something about what is important to you and what you do best. You might be wonderful at helping others with their problems. You might have an aptitude for engineering or design. You might rock at editing and proofreading. Get my drift?
Here are some things I've noticed about myself:
- A blank sheet of paper intimidates me if I think I have to draw on it, but if I think I can write words on it, then I am inspired and energized. This tells me that I AM creative, but just in a different way than my artist friends are.
- I have a hard time relaxing. This tells me that I need to focus on taking time to do nothing or to be intentional about my down time so I'll refresh myself and be more productive.
- I will give almost anyone a piece of my time if there's a hole in my calendar, but I rarely carve out time for myself and reaching my own goals. This has got to stop or I'll burn out.
- I have a hard time defining a business niche for myself because I'm so interested in so many varying things and am easily distracted (I'm writing this blog post instead of doing something else that should have taken priority). I haven't figured this one out yet, but I hope that awareness is a step in the right direction.
What do YOU notice? What do you think it's saying about who you are and what you value?
Photo credit for “Blue Eye”: Jeff Bettens (via http://www.sxc.hu), Belgium, www.iamjef.be