CHAPTER 2Listen with Your Eyes: The Power of Intentional Attention

“Ms. Neen, do you like Obi Wan or Yoda better?”

“Yoda, of course!” I said.

I was sitting at my next‐door neighbor Eileen's kitchen table, savoring a cup of strong, black coffee. Eileen had stepped out of the room, and I had reached for my phone to quickly check email. In Eileen's absence, her five‐year‐old son Donovan, dressed in his Superman costume, had picked up the conversation with a barrage of questions.

“Ms. Neen, do you like to play outside or inside?”

“Outside.”

“Ms. Neen, cats or dogs?”

“Cats,” I mumbled.

“MS. NEEN, PAY ATTENTION TO ME—PLEASE!”

Startled, I looked up. “I am, honey.”

He assured me I was not, stamped his little feet, jumped up in my lap, took my phone out of my hands, and put it on the table. Then he took my face in his tiny little hands and turned it toward him. With great superhero passion and intensity, he said the words I will never forget:

“Pay attention to me! Listen with your eyes!”

In that precious moment, Donovan helped me realize why it's so important that we give intentional attention to the people, priorities, and passions that are important to us. It took a five‐year‐old to teach me the value of truly paying attention and to show me that paying attention is not a passive activity.

Have you ever felt like Donovan?

Have you ever walked into your boss's office to discuss an important issue, but they just keep working on their computer while you are talking to them? Have you ...

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