Text vs. commentary

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By , April 28, 2010

I look around my office at shelves packed with non-fiction books. Other rooms are packed with files full of articles. Magazines are everywhere.

Management, leadership, personal growth, spirituality, training. Years and years of purchases. I’m keenly aware of the complicated motivations behind buying all these books. Part of it was learning. But a deeper incentive has always been that the knowledge in the book will somehow give me at least some kind of clarity or calm or …… something……..

I’ve had this growing realization, though, that this quest – which has left me with thousands of books and articles – has obscured a more powerful and useful idea.

I already have what I need.

Take just one class of books that might be classed under business/spirituality/personal growth. In some magazine I read about “attention management”, and I loved that. We are what we pay attention to.  So I bought a bunch of books that got at what were some pretty basic ideas.

I noticed a curious mentality as I reached for the book and was reading it. I was comforted and inspired by these ideas relating to targeting and managing my attention towards the priority matters at hand. I loved learning about what neuroscientists are learning about the inefficiencies of multi-tasking.

But here’s the rub. These thoughts of mine as I read the many refractions about “attention is good” are like candy. They feel good and generate an aspiration and some inspiration. But the real point of these books and articles relates to work and living in the world, and comes with changed practices and behaviors.

But what if I really want to apply the concept of paying attention within some part of my life?  For unless I already am at my standard of “paying attention,” something has to change.

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