FOCUS: Noticing

Personal Mastery, Mental Models

All there is to thinking is seeing something noticeable,
which makes you see something you weren't noticing,
which makes you see something that isn't even visible.
Leo Strauss


It amazes me how blind I am - I stop seeing things: clutter; my cat Bonkers’ messy toy basket; pictures on the wall. Perhaps this blindness is the brain’s gift so that we can get on with life and not stay concerned about things that don’t really matter much.

Still, I’m startled when something wakes me up and I suddenly notice. Lots of things. I have just finished my 19 day Baha’i Fast. Every March for 19 days we don’t eat or drink anything between sunrise and sunset. I used to think it was a dreadful inconvenience at the least. Other times I thought it was torture. Somehow over the years its meaning has changed and, although it takes some mental and spiritual preparation, now it’s not hard and I actually like it. It jolts my routines and I see a lot of things I’ve been blind to. I watch the sunrise, and enjoy noting that the time of sunrise doesn’t change evenly. Some days it’s one minute later, some days two. The morning bird symphony is loud! On my walk today a whole street of blossom trees were in full bloom. Yesterday the branches were just sticks. When I take the first sip of water at sunset, it is glorious and I think it is the first time I’ve ever really tasted water. I nearly swooned over a nut yesterday.

This heightened awareness, this keen noticing that seems to come with fasting makes me wonder how many other things in my life I’m blind to. I wrote an e-mail to a client. He wrote back all confused. As I was patiently responding, it occurred to me to reread my initial e-mail. I was shocked. My e-mail made no sense at all. How often am I blind to myself? Blaming the other person for what may well be my flaws?

I like the quote from Leo Strauss because it follows the whole path from being blind and not knowing it to seeing, and then beyond to seeing what can’t be seen. Maybe the biggest invisible thing that people can see is the condition of each other’s heart. If someone is acting all sweet, but underneath they’re angry, I know. What I want to notice, though, is when I’m the one who’s offering a mixed message. To notice myself and the condition of my heart, and keep it peaceful - even when I’m not fasting.

I have a feeling that just increasing my noticing may go a long way toward helping me be the person I want to be. 


  1. In your life, where might you be blind?

  2. How might you jumpstart your noticing by changing some routine?

  3. Think of a relationship or situation in your life you’re unhappy about. Get curious about yourself in that relationship or situation. Really explore who you bring to it. What do you notice?


There will be no telegathering this month because I am going on a 2 week vacation to California to be with family. I would, however, love to hear what you're noticing. Send me an e-mail.

Reach me: 1-888-907-HOPE (4673)or e-mail I am a personal and executive coach and would be happy to offer you a complimentary coaching session by phone. Each month FRESH VIEWS focuses on a single topic, relates it to one of the five disciplines of a learning community, and offers a coaching tip and a follow-up telegathering. Please forward it to friends and colleagues. My purpose in writing FRESH VIEWS is to nurture, prod and encourage readers to think and talk about these topics with their families, friends and colleagues. Mine is only one view. Multiple conversations may deliver us to insights only hinted at here. Such a process sustains the vitality of learning relationships, learning families, learning organizations and learning communities.

Sharon Eakes | 720 Maple Lane | Sewickley, PA 15143

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