To be merely awake is not to be alert. To be alert requires intensity and focus. There are so many distractions that can take us out of an alert state into a self-absorbed one, chief among them the ubiquitous “smart phone”. There’s a time and place to use this remarkable tool, but frankly I don’t see the value when you’re walking down the sidewalk, traveling a path (unless of course you need to fire up the GPS to figure out where you are), or in a business meeting. It is frighteningly easy to slip into a trance.
When planning your use of the finite time available, set aside time for “heads-down” work, which can only be accomplished with deafening quiet and concentration. Interestingly, a state of mental alertness heightens capabilities in such circumstances.
But then there is the “heads-up” work of looking for responses, connections and patterns. It is those observations that lead to transformational insights, but they won’t happen if you aren’t alert enough to see them. Those moments are the ones that create breakthroughs in our business and personal lives.
Mule deer may not be equipped to react with more than a conditioned or instinctual response to their environment. Yet we can learn something by observing and emulating their level of alertness. To be alert is to maximize the moment.