The Delicate Art of Paying Attention

Early one summer morning, I walked straight out to sea. In the photo above, I'm standing about a mile from the shoreline, but the water is only two inches deep.

I'm on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, on the Brewster Flats. At high tide, the water near shore is over my head. At low tide, the ocean retreats about a mile and a half. Even when you get to the ocean, it is just inches deep for almost as far as you can see.

So if you want to go swimming at low tide, you're out of luck. But if you want to go swimming at high tide, it's beautiful.

Timing is everything.

As the tides change, small fish dart back and forth at the edge of the ocean. They exist in a tiny, ever-changing zone between the ocean and the beach. By edge, I mean the water an inch or two deep that flows back and forth as minuscule waves lap the sand.

For these minnows, timing is the difference between life and death.

It's tempting to think that we live and work in a safer zone, with greater margin for error. In reality, we're a lot more like those fish than many folks imagine.

As I write this, The Once and Future Hurricane Hermine may or may not be churning towards us. This peaceful beach may or may not turn into a dangerous and foreboding landscape. The houses at the water's edge may be untouched, or they may be damaged.

It all depends on timing... will the storm linger in warm waters long enough to strengthen significantly or will it veer towards the coast?

We live in a ridiculously thin atmosphere surrounded by trillions of miles of frigid, airless space. We also exist on Earth during a time when it is not too cold and not too hot.

(Strike that. In some places, it IS too hot already.)

Success as a human being is dependent on a good sense of timing. You don't necessarily have to be smarter or more talented than others, you just have to have a better sense of timing.

If you know when to ask for a raise, when to buy - or sell - a house, when to start a company, when to propose, when to say yes (or no)... you will have a wonderful life.

Sadly, many people lack good timing, for one simple reason: they don't pay attention.

Do you?

Do you notice when your boss seems a little preoccupied?

Do you recognize when the market starts to shift ever so slightly, which may be an early sign that this would be a splendid time to start that company you've been dreaming about?

Do you notice hundreds of little shifts that happen every day, all around you?

You should.

More importantly, do you pay attention to your intuition? When your gut is telling you "danger! danger! danger!" do you heed the warning or ignore it?

When you've spent months researching, and thinking, and crafting a plan, do you take the time to pause and consider what's really important? I don't just mean "consider" with your conscious mind; I also mean employing your intuitive intelligence.

The more you want something, the more important it is to pay attention. The more you pay attention, the better your timing gets.

This, by the way, is why some people are so "lucky".

They pay attention.

Fortunately, I am willing to share with you my one-step, guaranteed method of paying attention:

#1: Pay attention

#2: There is no step two. Just pay attention.