What Do You Pay Attention To?

You go into a restaurant. What catches your eye? Years ago, I’m in Darmstadt, Germany at a restaurant with my older brother, Brian. I’m wondering if the elderly couple in the corner were Nazi’s during WWII, and Brian is turning over the plate to see who made it. We don’t normally think about it, but we all have what are called, five “life preferences”, what we pay attention to. Look at the figure below:

What is it that interests you?

This is like a sorting mechanism for us, we pay attention to things we like, things that motivate us.

For example, going on a vacation, say you went to Italy, did you focus on: 

  • The people — their behavior
  • The places you went to — Tuscany
  • Activities — like cooking pasta
  • Knowledge — the history of Pompeii
  • Or things — like colored glass from the island of Murano
When you strike up a conversation with someone, notice what they talk about. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer, this is simply a way to identify your preferences and the preferences of others.  

Why is it important to know about your preferences? First, it tells you what’s important to you, what you prefer to spend your time focusing on, what you like to think about. And, you can start to notice what others prefer to think about. Maybe there is someone you don’t get along with. Start paying attention to what this person tends to talk about. Maybe he likes to talk about activities, doing things, and you prefer talking about knowledge and models. Shift your focus to talking about how your ideas do things and make things happen — and become real activities. You might just see a new side of this person. Maybe he is not so difficult after all!