Your Attention Please

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”
― Mary Oliver

I have always noticed the small things in life. Ok – at least I would like to think so. Like poet Mary Oliver, I love nature. I notice the small things. I notice the red-breasted grosbeak in the Springtime if lucky enough to spot one. Further, I notice a child who seems sad and needs prodding to find out what unfortunate episode occurred in 5th grade that day; I notice the funereal beauty of a life well-lived; I notice the internal but silent satisfaction a child feels after a job well done on or off the field.

I also notice the ability to make someone smile at the checkout line at Jewel Food stores when buying groceries. Last Thursday Jewel-Osco parent company Supervalu announced it will sell the grocery store chain  in a $3.3 billion deal to a consortium of investors led by Cerberus Capital Management, according to the Minnesota-based Supervalu. How sad. I am a loyal Jewel shopper because the Jewel store is in my “traffic pattern” of life. It’s easy. I know where everything is. That being said, I paid attention to Jewel these last few years and sadly watched the decline in their ability to pay attention. I could have told Jewel  to pay attention. Mere location, location, location is no longer enough. As a mom of five, I could have told Jewel to watch out: moms can shop at Target; moms can grab high-quality prepared foods; moms like Whole Foods; moms want organic choices for their kids and will pay for it. More choices? How about Amazon, Peapod or

Which brings me to the importance of paying attention in this crazy 24/7 attention-seeking and attention-getting world. Attention. It seems everyone is fighting for my attention: my family, my friends, brands, services, businesses, teachers, and so many more! There is SO MUCH NOISE!

So just how do we pay attention to the small things so that we can continue to enjoy that beautiful sense of wonder? How do we notice the glistening ice that clings to the dark tree branches the morning after an ice storm? How do we pay attention to our existing customers? How do we anticipate the sea change that is occurring before our very eyes? If you have ever heard Gary Vaynerchuk (author of The Thank You Economy) speak, he brings up a wonderful analogy: consumers today could learn a lesson from Grandma. She used to walk into the butcher shop and the butcher would say, “Hello Mrs X, how are you? Ready for your 1 lb of thinly sliced roast beef?” So there we are. Notice the small things. If only Jewel had trained their employees to try to ask and remember their customers’ names while Jewel tried to revamp their business model – maybe it would’ve helped them bide time while they figured out a new business model that works in this noisy world we not live in? Pay attention.

Oh. And don’t forget to say, “thank you.”