It’s a simple, old-fashioned word compared to all the high-tech terms today, but it packs a powerful punch for those who put it into practice.
Awareness conveys the concept of knowledge gleaned from one’s observations and sensitivity to the implications of that knowledge. In short, awareness means noticing what’s around you and applying your observations appropriately.
So what’s the big deal?
We’re already so overwhelmed with information – all available at the touch of a button. Why would we want to be more sensitive to information around us? Because awareness is powerful. It allows the observer an insider’s guide to the motivations and needs of others. That ‘insider’s information’ can create opportunities for growth, ministry, business, and success.
Awareness in action
Take, for example, the story of Velcro ®. After a walk in the woods, George de Mestral observed that the burrs from the plants stuck to his pants. Examining the burrs with a microscope revealed tiny hooks which clung to the fabric. Applying this concept, he created the hook and loop fastener we all know and love.
Awareness benefits parents and managers through improved relationships. Practicing sensitivity, these leaders can begin to observe interests, concerns, and subjects that create excitement among their people. Applying this knowledge to systems, rewards, and motivators can encourage bonding, loyalty, and stress-reduced productivity. That’s powerful!
Ministers and businessmen aren’t often categorized together, but when it comes to awareness, they share the same goal: determining needs of the people and figuring out how to meet them. Awareness serves both of these desires. The ability to actively listen in a conversation as well as observe habits, behaviors, and choices reveals deficiencies in people’s lives. That knowledge could lead to new business ideas, products, or services as well as creative solutions to someone’s needs.
Fulfillment of a higher purpose
Blake Mycoskie is the founder of TOMS shoes, a company who popularized the process of “one for one”. Blake’s awareness on a visit to Argentina created both a successful international company and ministry combined. By purchasing a pair of TOMS shoes, based on the Argentinean ‘alpargatas’, TOMS promises another pair to be given away to a shoe-less child in developing nations around the world. The shoes are manufactured by the Argentinians themselves, adding to their economy. All this resulted from simple awareness.
The question at hand then, is how does one get in the habit of awareness when one hasn’t been? Consider starting with these practices:
- Listen to conversations around you. (No, I’m not advocating eves-dropping.)
o Focus on what the other person is saying, without distraction.
o Ask questions to prompt more in-depth responses.
- Observe habits of people and ask yourself these questions:
o Where do they shop? Why do they shop there?
o What do they wear? Are they dressed for fashion, comfort, impact?
o What do they eat? When? Where? How much?
o What are they talking about in person or on social media; good or bad?
- When you’re watching TV, reading internet news, listening to the radio, look and listen for patterns (more on this in a future post).
o What subjects come up repeatedly? Why?
o What about the ads; who is advertising what and where?
- Ask yourself how you can apply this knowledge.
o What other situations are similar?
o What knowledge exists that can be adapted?
o How can this knowledge help someone else?
Awareness may be a simple, old-fashioned concept, but the impact of awareness is powerful, as illustrated in the above examples. The practice of awareness takes time, but the rewards are well worth the effort.