The Locomotive Who Notices the Scenery is a True Mogul

Mogul Mom is a wonderful term for us, isn’t it? I looked up mogul and found a second definition in addition to the one we all love and know: “an important or powerful person”. The second definition is “a steam locomotive”.
 
 
Well that just says it all, doesn’t it?
 
 
Don’t you often feel like a steam locomotive powering through your to-do lists and your calendar items? And when you power your way through your days, accomplishing wonderful things, the end result is that you become a mogul (definition #1)! Awesome!
 
 
But, wait a sec.
 
 
You’re accomplished. You get things done. You’rre efficient. You give your kids the attention they need. You’re a star at work. You have a happy, loving family. (Well, it’s ok if “almost” qualifies these things.)
 
 
Still. something is missing. Missing because life is not one big, long checklist. Life, my friends, offers us so much more to appreciate if we just Notice.
 
 
You must have heard all the buzz about mindfulness lately. Be “in the moment”, take some time to meditate, be “present”. Ok. All good. But few of us have time to sit on a mountaintop or even to take an hour and go someplace quiet by ourselves to meditate.
 
 
I define Noticing as “mindfulness with a smile”. What I mean by that is – be aware of your surroundings as you go about your daily business, and be ready with a smile or a laugh.
 
 
How? Start by using your senses. And teach your kids to do this too. Unplug! Take out the earbuds! Put down the phone for a minute! When you wake up in the morning take just one minute to see the shadows and the sunlight and be aware of how you feel – chilly or warm.
 
Can you smell anything? Coffee brewing? Diapers?
 
What do you hear? Kids? Heat or AC? Refrigerator?
 
 
In one minute you can get yourself in a Noticing mindset. Get your kids to Notice too. They can tell you what they see, hear, smell, feel, taste while you are fixing their breakfasts.
 
 
Continue this throughout the day. When you are driving, what can you see? What does the sky look like? How about the trees? Are there lots of people around or not? How are they dressed? What are their distinctive walks?
 
 
You know, last summer Harvard Business Review featured an article called “Becoming a First Class Noticer”. It talked about the importance of Noticing for CEOs. Yes, this is an important skill to learn! Noticing is essential for leadership.
 
 
When you, your family, and your coworkers get good at using your five senses to Notice, you can proceed to Level II Noticing: Zippers, Broccoli, and Human IdiosynCrazies ™.
 
 
I think the zipper is one of the best inventions of all time. Simple, satisfying (Zip! Zip! What fun! ;-)) And it gets the job done. I call things that are simple and that get the job done, “zippers”. There are plenty of “zippers” at work and at home. Often they are so simple that we don’t Notice them. But if we did, we could think of other ways to use them to simplify our lives. For example, at work an agenda to a meeting is a “zipper”. Imagine if you didn’t have one. People would spend lots of time arguing about what to talk about. At home, a “zipper” might be the kids getting their backpacks ready and at the door before they go to bed. You and your coworkers and your family can come up with tons of “zippers” and then think how else they might be used. Notice the Zippers!
 
 
Ah. The beautiful broccoli! A head a broccoli is made up of smaller heads of broccoli and they are made up of even smaller heads of broccoli. It is a repeating pattern. There are repeating patterns all over nature. There are also repeating patterns in the way work gets done and the way people behave. I call repeating patterns, “broccoli”.
 
 
It is important to Notice the “broccoli” because if you do, you can decide whether the broccoli is positive or negative. If positive, can you figure out how to replicate it? If negative, disrupt it! Replace that negative broccoli with a fresher, greener broccoli! At work, the office kitchen is always a mess, right? Disrupt that broccoli! At home, you might have a pattern or a routine that works for you and your family. I used to come home from work, change my clothes, and put in a load of laundry before I did anything else. The kids knew to play quietly for 10 minutes while this happened. This was my broccoli and it worked.
 
 
Once I was comfortable and felt that my chores had started, I could give my attention to the kids and to cooking dinner. You could sit down with your family and discuss your broccolis. Can you replicate them in other ways? Should you disrupt them and replace them with fresher broccoli? You can do the same with your coworkers. Notice the Broccoli!
 
 
Using terms like zipper and broccoli takes the edge off difficult issues and can lead to more creative solutions, as well as the all-important laughs.
 
 
Human Idiosyn-Crazies ™ are the endearingly dumb things we all do. I believe we should Notice our own Human Idiosyn-Crazies and laugh at ourselves. In my book, The Noticer’s Guide to Living and Laughing, I have a section describing my own Human Idiosyn-Crazies ™.
 
 
The book is composed of 97 “Noticings” which are very short essays, and each is accompanied by a “Conversation-Starter”, a suggestion for using the Noticing to start a conversation with your family, spouse, friends, or co-workers.
 
 
In the section of the book on Human Idiosyn-Crazies ™, for example, there is the Noticing “I am Boring” where I write about the fact that once I have been to a restaurant, I always order the same thing from that menu, no matter how many times I go there. One of the Conversation-Starters for this one, is to talk about the roles your team falls into at work – should these roles be shaken up a bit? In “My Way is the Only Way”, I talk about how most of us believe that we alone know how to properly load a dishwasher.
 
 
There is a Conversation-Starter with this one that invites the family to talk about things they are sure they do the right way – folding socks, replacing toilet paper, putting cups in the cupboard with handles facing left..or right? This conversation is sure to encourage laughter. In “Secrets of the Closet” I talk about my Fibber McGee closets (stuffed to the brim where things fall on you when you open the door). If everyone understands that the goal is to laugh at yourself and with others, not at others, talking about Human Idiosyn-Crazies ™ can be a great family conversation.
 
 
I don’t have to give you examples of Human Idiosyn-Crazies ™ you will see at work with co-workers, employees, and clients. You can tell me plenty, I’m sure! But when you Notice Human Idiosyn-Crazies ™, you can do one of three things: you can just laugh good-naturedly (best option); you can ignore it (give the other guy a break because we all are endearingly dumb in some ways); or you can discuss it with the other person in hopes of change or accommodation.
 
 
Notice the Zippers! Notice the Broccoli! Notice the Human Idiosyn-Crazies ™! And laugh. Life is too short to miss all this stuff.
 
 

Life is more than a checklist. Pledge to be a a locomotive that NOTICES the scenery on either side of the railroad tracks!

 

Margery Sher

Founder and Chief Noticing Officer at The Did Ya Notice? Project™
Margery Leveen Sher is a speaker, writer, entrepreneur, and executive who has had a long consulting career working with corporations, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and foundations. She founded and successfully developed a for-profit consulting firm, over 30 non-profit organizations, and two charitable funds. She's also the author of The Noticer’s Guide to Living and Laughing

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