Do you what it takes to be a secret agent? James Bond needs to have a high level awareness and attention. Let’s see if you make the grade. Here’s an exercise for you to do to test your awareness. Watch the video below and see how many passes the team in white makes?
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Attention is a “spotlight on experience”. The mechanism of attention decides what we bring into conscious awareness and what we do not.
Dan Simons’ (University of Illinois) “basket ball game” experiment (and others) is an example of this. When you ask people to count the number of passes, 50% miss the moon walking bear. This phenomonon is refered to as “inattentional blindness”. We have a small window of attention: if we focus on one thing, we tend to ignore other things.
We essentially have a blind spot for the things we do not expect to see. The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is responsible for directing our attention to those things that are relevant to us. I have written about confirmation bias, we tend to seek information that confirms and conforms to our world view.
Our perceptions of what is possible (e.g. what goals we could achieve, or solutions for a complex problem) are limited to what we hear, see and believe.
Often you’ll hear people say, “we need to think outside of the box”. Well thinking out of the box is almost impossible if you do not change your perspective. You can’t think outside of the box if your perception is limited to the inside of the box.
To my mind, three things are required for people to think outside the box.
- Firstly, you need to expand your vision, The easiest way for a person or group to begin thinking outside the box is to seek diversity of perspective (talk to other people).
- You need to suspend judgement on what you believe is possible. Our own internal attitutdes and beliefs, and the external limitations imposed by other people’s attitutdes and belief systems, limit what we believe is possible.
- You need to be able to connect seemingly disconnected bits of information; and the wider your knowledge base, the easier it is to make associations between seemingly discrete bits of information.
If you are wanting to radically change your life, you need to start with changing what you allow yourself to see.