The following is an excerpt from the book Your Attention: Your Property by Dan Sullivan.
I’ve been coaching entrepreneurs for decades, and one of the most significant impacts of our coaching program on our clients over long periods of time is that they get a handle on managing and directing their own attention toward what’s most beneficial and useful for them.
At the same time, they develop an immunity to having their attention pulled away from them by other people or situations. (And there’s never a lack of people trying to control where you put your attention!)
The game for everyone involved in the marketing and advertising world is to grab other people’s attention and use it for their own purposes. Of course, at Strategic Coach, we want to get people’s attention too, but what we offer is improved attention management and a greater ability to think about your own life in a way that leads to greater happiness through the use of our tools.
Being fully focused.
In the business world, the emphasis tends to be on time management. But time management isn’t really the issue because that would mean you’re relating to a measurement outside of yourself, something you can’t control.
Attention management, on the other hand, is something you can control. It means you’re aware of your own thinking and have a sense that you’re totally in the present with yourself. You’re very clear that you’re focusing on something, and you’re noticing that whatever you’re focusing on has your full attention. You experience right away that there’s a very different feeling and energy that comes when you’re fully focusing your attention, and you get unique value from the way you personally manage your own attention.
They’re after your attention.
Most people who are trying to capture your attention are only trying to sell you something. The only thing they care about is getting a certain number of people’s attention on a particular product.
They don’t care about making you a better, more focused person. They just want to use your attention for their own reasons, not because having your attention is of benefit to you.
But, like most people, you probably don’t like being told what to do. The only situations in which you’ll gladly give your attention to someone else are when doing so means you’ll gain something useful from it. To put it another way, you’ll let someone else have your attention if they’re going to use your attention for your purposes, not for their own.
You might be able to distinguish between these situations by the kinds of questions you’re being asked. If someone is asking you to pay attention to their experience, that’s one thing, but if they’re asking you to think about your own experiences, that’s something else entirely.
Strengthening the right muscle.
You want to be focused on yourself as a unique individual and on how you’re looking at your own life.
I think of doing this as using a particular muscle—one that a lot of people haven’t used before. That’s why they have a difficult time putting their focus on their own interests and why they’re very easily pulled away to focus their attention toward somebody else’s purpose.
But you can strengthen this muscle, and at Strategic Coach, we provide tools and concepts that help you do just that. We show entrepreneurs how they can gain greater and greater management and control over their attention so they can direct it toward whatever they choose.
At any time, you can start taking advantage of the lasting methods we’ve developed, which you can trust will always work. You can start thinking differently.
The more you practice this, the better you get at it, and there’s no upper limit to how good you can get at focusing on your own interests. And once you gain management of your own attention, there’s a natural movement on your part to help others focus on what’s important to them.
You have the right.
I think entrepreneurs tend to manage their own attention better than most people, and this is partly what gives them the confidence to become entrepreneurs in the first place. A lot of people need to be employed because they can’t focus their attention on money-making activities the way entrepreneurs can.
Entrepreneurs have developed the attitude that their attention is their property, and they manage their attention in the same way they manage other areas of their property.
People will say, “Do I have the right to do this?” And the answer is always that you have the right to do this if you say you have the right to do this. It’s your attention, and you can decide right now to take complete ownership and control over it.
Thinking about your attention.
Focusing your attention is how you gain the ability to actually experience how you’re thinking about things. I call this “thinking about your thinking.” At any given time, you can step back and not only see what your attention is focused on, but experience how you’re giving something attention and how you’re fully conscious and present with the particular experience you’re having.
This is not the case for people who are totally consumed by things outside of themselves. They have emotional reactions to physical things, to other people, and to other people’s thoughts, but they themselves aren’t having their own clear thoughts about what they’re giving their attention to.
People like this will eventually have to react to something in a way that involves thinking about their thinking, and since this is a rare occurrence for them, and it usually happens in a negative situation, they can start to associate thinking about their thinking with negative situations.
But until you’re thinking about your thinking, you can’t direct your attention. And if you can’t direct your attention, you’re continuously reacting to unpredictable things that happen to you. When you think about your thinking, however, you’re completely in control.
To learn how to take control of your attention, time, and purpose, get your copy of my latest book, Your Attention: Your Property.