Hardly any faculty is more important for the intellectual progress of man than ATTENTION. Animals clearly manifest this power, as when a cat watches by a hole and prepares to spring on its prey.
– Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (1871)
Let’s talk about attention.
But first a small experiment.
INSTRUCTION: As soon as you have finished reading this sentence, turn your head around about 180 and describe something you can see that is coloured green and does not belong to you.
OK. Here’s the point. Once you look in a direction it’s easy to see what is there. Here’s how it worked:
1. I gave you the cue above to turn your head and look for something specific
2. You turned your head and looked
3. You saw.
I don’t know where you are right now but most readers would have been able to carry this experiment out successfully, once you decided to look.
Here’s the special insight that I would like you to get now as a result of this little experiment. It will help you get better use out of the cvs2bvs brain software. It’s this:
ONCE YOU MOVE YOUR ATTENTION IN A CERTAIN DIRECTION YOU CAN EASILY SEE WHAT IS THERE TO SEE. BUT, THE DECISION TO MOVE YOUR ATTENTION COULD TAKE TWENTY YEARS!
Managing Your Attention
Many people feel that if there is an opportunity somewhere – a BVS – why, they’ll see it and go get it. They assume the very presence of a BVS will make itself known to them, that it will attract their attention. But no, it doesn’t work that way. You have to direct your own attention.
BVSs are there all the time, you’re tripping over them all day long, literally hundreds of them, but you’re not seeing them. The reason you’re missing them is obvious: It’s impossible to notice a BVS if your attention on defending your CVS.
Attention is the gateway to consciousness. Attention is the business of your mind. Attention is the principal service provided by the management section of your brain which enables you to focus in and have a mind– for you to think about things.
How you move your attention around is very interesting. There are three distinct aspects of attention-directing in your brain:
1. disengagement: escaping from your present fixation of attention
2. movement: movement of attention across the cognos, the vast universe of possible thoughts
3. engagement: attending to a new object out of a competition of an infinite multitude of possible candidates.
The cvs2bvs brain software is designed as a switch that helps you to control your attention and move it around, especially when your attention is habitually focused on your CVS and its defence. CVS2BVS can help you disengage and move your attention away from your CVS and to engage it elsewhere on a BVS.
Pay attention! This is a command with which we are all familiar. We all heard it many times as children and we still hear it (if more subtly expressed) every day in business. We know what it means to direct our attention even though it is something we do inside our head.
– In a noisy cocktail party, you can hone in on one particular conversation.
– In a business presentation, while presenting to the room at large and doing justice to her presentation as planned, an account executive can shift the attention around in her vision to catch the expression on her executive client’s face while apparently staring intently at her audio-visual.
– A marketing professional can show you how to deliberately shift your attention away from your product-driven strategy to a better client-driven one and then you can notice the way the information before you rearranges itself.
– A habit of attention may mean that the first thing a hairdresser notices about you is your hair while a dentist may notice your smile instead.
– On arriving at O’Hare International airport, I can pick out my driver from the dozens of others waiting even though my name is badly misspelt on his sign.
– An over-critical parent can pick out the one mistake in a child’s work and not see that the child has accomplished a great deal.
– A shared goal, like Sir Bob Geldorf’s Band-Aid, can cue a diverse group of individual and even competitive entertainers to give priority to a certain event where otherwise they would all be paying attention to something else.
– A team leader can pull back the attention of her team to a project-in-hand after a distraction had drawn attention away.
– A specific motion put before the board can focus the attention of the directors after a long and wandering discussion.
– Most languages have a word like Achtung! which focuses one’s attention.
We experience attention as a filter that the management part of our brain applies to the flood of competing information that comes in from our senses.
Individuals who have suffered brain-damage can lose their ability to control their attention. Attention disorders are manifested in different ways depending on the nature of the damage. It can take the form of an inability to escape from a particular fixation and so they remain stuck in a viewpoint regardless of the demands of their environment.
Or, damage to the right side of the brain can make it impossible for patients to pay attention to the side opposite the damaged hemisphere even to the point of failing to dress the left side of their bodies.
Sometimes, loss of attention-control means constant and debilitating distraction. This is because a person suffering from an attention disorder cannot prevent attention from being diverted by irrelevant stimuli.
Attention is not just another ‘function’ alongside other cognitive functions. The kind of attention we bring to bear on the world changes the very nature of the world we attend to. Attention changes what kind of a thing comes into being for us: in that way it changes the world. If you are my friend, the way in which I attend to you will be different from the way in which I would attend to you if you were my employer, my patient, the suspect in a crime I an investigating. my lover, my aunt, a body waiting to be dissected. In all these circumstances, except the last, you will also have a quite different experience not just of me, but of yourself: you would feel changed if I changed the type of my attention. And yet nothing objectively has changed.
– Iain McGilchrist, The Master and The Emissary
“You can do a lot if you’re properly trained“, so says Elizabeth II.
The Queen of Australia is one of the most successful world leaders still alive today. She has served in her job for several generations and through many changing environments. Here she chats informally and intimately about her own unique life. It goes for 10 minutes and has several insights and ideas to reflect upon about people … about personal communication, hospitality, recognition, trust, listening, confidentiality, professionalism, duty, continuity and training …
What is the most useful insight you can take away for your own life from Elizabeth’s experience about the value of training?
In April 2010 SOT accepted the first intake of qualified Esquires into the School of Chivalry and the next intake will be in November 2012.
If you would like to be considered as a candidate for this elite training please reply here saying why you think you would excel.
Traditionally, an Esquire is a trainee Knight.
Knights of legend capture our imagination with their romance of faith, their spirit of adventure their rigorous training and prowess in battle. From Sir Galahad to Luke Skywalker the knights and their orders of chivalry have enjoyed a peculiar quality which has lasted for 900 years.
Today, we can see a growing conversation around the world on things like “values”, “ethical leadership“, “social responsibility” and “philanthropy” as well as personal training and the ancient chivalric tradition of service to the sick and the poor.
Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson has been researching the Rule of Chivalry and providing training on these virtues since 1980 and extends this training to suitably qualified SOT members.
The mission of the School of Chivalry is to provide coaching to qualified candidates in the history, strategies, virtues and quintessential skills of chivalry – training and service.
Part One of the training is: QRH. Part Two: The Meme of Chivalry.
There will be ten candidates per intake and the next intake is in November 2012. If you are already listed as an SOT Instructor and you would like to be considered as a candidate for this training post your application in the Comments Box below.
In the School of Chivalry, those who successfully complete the training may be prepared for the accolade of knighthood. There are no fees. There is only personal training and service to others.
The motto of the School of Chivalry is: QRH.
Caravaggio – Knight of Malta
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571 – 1610)
Portrait of a Knight of Malta, Fra Antonio Martelli, 1607-8
Oil on canvas
Galleria Palatina, Palazzo Pitti, Florence