Speed of awareness

A good gauge for how we’re doing on changing our own behavior is a metric I call speed of awareness.

Let’s take an example – an idea I have been attempting to work on is inquiry instead of opinions. When I’m asked for advice, my typical process is to understand the problem, look for a framework that fits the situation and then give my opinions. I’ve come to realize that a better process would be to add more inquiry before I give my opinion on the situation. I still move way too quickly into solution suggestions.

Now, if my speed of awareness was to be 1 second, I would have no problem. As soon as I did it, I would catch myself, back track and move on. The challenge, of course, is that shortening the speed of awareness takes work. So, the first time I realized I did this, it was a couple of days after a conversation. The next time, it was a day. Then, a few hours. A few days ago, I realized it right after a conversation. That’s progress. The next time, I hope to catch myself during the conversation and then as soon as I get the question in time.

The key with reducing the speed of awareness is deliberate practice. In this case, deliberate practice is re-hashing that conversation and re-doing it in my mind.

speed of awareness, reflectionThanks to source for the image

Similarly, imagine you want to learn to take a deep breath before you lose your temper. The way to do this would not be to will anger away. It would be to focus on reducing your speed of awareness. The deliberate practice in this situation would be 3-5 minutes of deep breathing every day and re-hashing times when you lost your cool and re-doing it. Over time, you’ll notice your speed of awareness decreasing.

Self-driven behavioral change is hard for many reasons. There isn’t an easy-to-understand process and there is a complete absence of metrics. I find speed of awareness to be a very useful metric to drive changes in ourselves…

2 thoughts on “Speed of awareness

  1. Great post! I will try to use this concept to get better at taking criticisms.

    One interesting thing is when your speed of awareness of the bad behavior is zero seconds but you do it anyway. Sometimes I’m staring at a slice of cake and I think “You are going to eat that cake and it’s a bad idea,” and then I eat the cake. I realized that eating the cake was a bad choice before I even did it.


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