Thoughtful Thursday: ATTENTION!

In a slight departure from my normal Thoughtful Thursday musings, I have decided to challenge myself to creating an A- Z of words I find myself using to help people improve their performance.

While the majority of my time is spent coaching golf, I do spend some time speaking to people in all walks of life and business regarding enhanced performance whatever their endeavour.

Many years ago, when I first started working with my good friend and co-author of The Lost Art” books Karl Morris, I started to understand the importance of “Attention”.

Karl has been banging the drum of the significance of what appears to be a fairly simple word for a long time now and I am eternally grateful that he has.

What you are about to read is from our best selling book – “ The Lost Art Of Putting”.While initially written with putting in mind, we have had feedback from dozens of people around the world about how this simple but profound concept has helped them in a variety of areas of their lives both on and off the golf course.


What are you doing right now? Yes, you! Are you really here with us? Or are you just glancing at this book and scanning the information waiting to see if you find something that will instantly fix all of your putting issues?

How quickly could you be distracted and taken away from us?What if your phone beeps with another one of those oh-so-important alerts?

Would you be able to stay with us or would we lose you to another video of a cat playing with a ball of string?

Unfortunately, most of us are in a constant state of low-level distraction. Our attention is literally hopping from one thing to another all through the day. Then we attempt to play a game like golf which absolutely demands our attention to be here and now on the task at hand.

What do we find so engaging about things that don’t really engage us? Why do we treat this wonderful piece of machinery we have between our ears with such little respect and more importantly, are we any happier for it?

What has gone so wrong with the simple ability just to be present in something for a period of time?

In his wonderful book, “The Hijacking of the American Mind”, Robert Lustig explains how we can gain a rush of the neurotransmitter, dopamine to the brain when we go on Facebook and get a like.

The problem being, dopamine can become addictive. We crave the hit it gives us and like all addictions, we need more and more to fuel the sense of need. It is as if our brain begins to crave these short-term hits and fixes of instant social media gratification. The more we get, the more we want. But what price are we paying for this?

This craving for attention from others and the distraction this causes actually plays havoc with the attention that really matters – your own attention to what is truly important to you.

Lustig talks about the difference between dopamine and serotonin.Dopamine is the pleasure driver and the more we get the more we want. Serotonin however, is more of a driver of happiness and contentment. Serotonin paradoxically, isn’t an instant hit but tends to create a sense of satisfaction because you have been absorbed in a challenging activity like a gym session, solving a complex problem or being fully engaged in a practice session.

The reason we mention this is we firmly believe great putting and indeed great golf, comes from your ability to pay attention.
I hope you found this little excerpt helpful, even if you don’t have issues with your putting (which puts you in the minority) or even if you don’t play golf.

Whatever you choose to do in life for business or pleasure, please be aware of the power of attention and pay it the respect it deserves.

Until next time, have fun, take care and do your best to make every day a good one.

Gary Nicol.