Email # 177- 10th July 2022 -"AWARENESS & ATTENTION, WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?"

Hi Team,

Awareness will keep you safe.
Attention will keep you relevant.

Awareness is vital for survival.
Attention is vital to progress.

Both nouns don't actually exist other outside our brains, but they shape our lives.

Awareness is priceless, but attention has real value (see the "attention economy" below).

Okay, by now you are screaming how does all this relate to me?

When you work on building sites a small lapse in awareness can result in a world of pain (just ask James!).

Over the last 3 weeks DDB has had two visits from "Worksafe Inspectors" at our Kingston St renovation project. On both occasions they did a very thorough inspection of the whole site, and I'm glad to say that they gave us a clean bill of health and safety after both visits. There were a few minor improvements we had to make, but all in all this large complex building site was deemed safe and complies with all OH&S regulations.

For me the main takeaway from these worksafe inspections is the importance of awareness to every person on the building site.

It is absolutely vital for each person on site to be aware of everything going on around them at all times.

Building sites are dangerous places to work. The work conditions and the people around you are constantly changing. What is safe one hour is dangerous the next and nothing is ever 100% safe. The only way to stay safe is to be responsible for your own actions and be fully aware of what you are doing and the possible hazards around you.

"Awareness of your own abilities keeps you grounded and safe." Unknown

However, we can only be aware of ourselves and our surroundings if we focus our attention on the right things.
Looking at your phone won't keep you safe!

Awareness and attention are very closely related but are often confused. 

Awareness is a state of perception or consciousness, the knowledge that something exists or is happening.

Attention is the act of concentration or focusing your mind on something, whilst selectively ignoring other stimuli.
Without getting to deep into the weeds about our thought processes, I feel it's valuable to understand a little more about awareness.

Broadly speaking these are five types of awareness.

  1. Self-awareness, being aware of yourself and where you fit in.
  2. Special awareness, being aware of your physical surroundings.
  3. Task-awareness, being aware of tasks you are doing and your overall job role.
  4. Time-awareness, being aware of how long things take and planning ahead.
  5. Social awareness, Being aware of social and group dynamics.

"Humour is the awareness that some things are really important, and others are not, but both are oddly jumbled up in everyday life." Christopher Morley

Every waking moment we are bombarded with information and stimuli, so our attention is constantly being pushed and pulled in different directions. The important thing about awareness is knowing what is important and worth our attention and what is not. So, it's all about focusing on the right things at the right times.

"The difference between something good and something great is attention to detail." Charles R. Swindoll

The challenge we all face is that attention is often elusive. At times It doesn't matter how hard you concentrate the answers you are looking for evade you. Yet other times your best insights or ideas come to you when you least expect them. Many people say they do their best work in the shower or when walking the dog. Awareness is not about how hard you try, it's about the quality of your thoughts and having an open mind.

Next week I will look into "The Attention Economy", how our attention has been turned into a valuable commodity and why holding our attention is aim of most large companies.

Until then, thanks for reading,
Stay safe and be aware of what's around you.

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