We have a rudimentary understanding of attention. This is unfortunate because what we pay attention to (or what we don’t pay attention to) is the starting point for everything that we do. Every thought, reaction, and behavior starts with attention.
The first is selective attention. At any one point in time, we are essentially viewing the world through a cardboard tube. Our brain is incapable of attending to anything and everything.
The second is attentional vigilance. This entails the extent to which remain focused on something. For the most part, our attention is fleeting. We don’t focus on something long enough to let it manifest so that we can begin to pick it apart and figure out what to do.
The third is executive control. We vary in our capacities to efficiently and effectively allocate and reallocate our attention across many different pieces of stimuli.
High-quality attention doesn’t mean focusing on something. If we fail to select the right thing to focus on, remain vigilant in this focus, and artfully move to and from appropriate points of interest, we’ll never leverage our attention in ways that matter.