Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Situational Awareness, or the ability to pay attention

Paying attention is something we can control. It is actually an awareness skill, according to Deepak Chopra. According to him paying attention is a form of total engagement with the situation and lists four steps that are involved:

  • Impartial observation – Look and listen with your senses
  • Analysis – Look and listen with your mind
  • Feeling – Look and listen with your heart
  • Meditation or Incubation – Look and listen with your soul

Developing awareness on all four levels strengthens your potential for success.

I can’t say that I look at this the same way Dr Chopra does but these 4 steps still resonated with me and made connections to what we talk about when we discuss situational awareness.  It is as simple maybe as paying attention to what is going on around us.  Then without really digging into the deeper meanings of his list, I discovered my own meanings and connections.  I guess that is a part of who I naturally am.  For me it connects to the 4 temperaments inside us all like this. 

Impartial observation - Look and listen with your senses – Artisans/Improvisers are all about the details and using their senses to be in the moment.  Using this temperament is about seeing things as they are, while feeling alive through their five senses.  Those with a preference for the Artisan/Improviser temperament tend to be very observant to their surroundings while recognizing people’s motives, making them very good negotiators.   Stress comes from being forced into a narrowly specific way of operating, especially if they are not a part of the solution and not given free rein to meet the standards in their own manner.

Analysis - Look and listen with your mind – is very much at the root of the Rational’s/Theorist’s temperament style. Using this temperament allows for precision and competence in everything they do.  Their need for knowledge usually assures that they are always looking for more information, but can get stressed if they feel that they are not competent in the things they do for whatever reason. This is even more of an issue if there are others around that see this happen or call them out.       

Feeling - Look and listen with your heart – this is the realm of the Idealist/Catalyst. These are the people persons. Decisions will always include concern for the others on the team.  Are they OK with the decision, are they a part of the decision, are they going to be affected by the decision. The idealist is a natural mediator or arbitrator, being able to see both sides of a conflict with a natural empathy.  It is that same heart that drives the idealist to take on causes that match their own values.  Stress is significantly increased when others could possibly be affected or harmed in some negative way especially if it is because of the idealist’s decision. 

Meditation - Look and listen with your soul – a good decision for a Guardian/Stabilizer can be said to follow this simple (common sense) rule.  If it is legal, moral and ethical it is a good decision. This is more than a mantra, it is something that is deep down at the core.  Guardians seem to be natural leaders and will typically work for the good of the group or organization. Decisions however, often come without consulting with others because they already know that they make good decisions using objective and logical reasoning. Stability being their strength, in an organization they can become stressed when change is introduced and the Guardian is not given a good explanation why or it does not seem to meet the common sense rule.  They can also be stressed when others on their team do not follow what they know objectively to be right or rules are broken or severely stretched. 

This does not mean that we have to act in one specific way.  I talk all the time about the fact that we are all of these temperaments.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  We naturally prefer some over the others and when we focus on our most natural or preferred ways of doing things we can often overlook a better way if there is one. We should work to be comfortable being uncomfortable.  When we need to act a different way, a way that may not be most natural for us, we should be able to get out of our own comfort zone, or most comfortable temperament and switch to a more appropriate way of handling the situation. What this means to leadership can be significant as we look at why one person or another may not make what the leader feels is a natural decision. Instead they don’t seem to recognize what others see as obvious.  Our natural tendencies may draw our attention to decisions that only meet one or two of the four techniques for paying attention and making good decisions. 

What do you think?



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