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Things we know well

According to NHTSA, 52% of vehicle accidents happen within one mile of home; 99% happen within 50 miles of home. I would argue that it is due to the quality of our attention. Whether we’re driving, typing on the computer, or playing an instrument, our skills learned through repetition become automatic.

When I see a niece or nephew for the first time in a year, I’m surprised at the changes they’re making. I say, “Wow, you’re growing up!” But with kids I see on a daily basis, growth is more easily measured at birthdays or when suddenly the kid is as tall as I am. Whether watching kids grow or noticing whether we’re clicking “Yes” or “Ok,” a familiar environment diminishes our awareness of change.

When skills become automatic and awareness diminishes, it is easier to make mistakes. Accidents happen. We have a fender bender. We delete the wrong file. How can we decrease the amount of unintentional mistakes and accidents?

One method is to create a checklist and use it. If you can, build in “undo” options  that allow you to go back a step or two. If you can’t go back, build additional options into the decision tree that allow either correction or lessened impact of the error. Encourage a buddy system, where coworkers or friends double-check decisions as you go through the checklist. Be present as you perform skills and as you run to the grocery store.

What other strategies do you use to increase your present moment awareness?

P.S. The photo is of the sky reflecting on the hood of the truck.

Excellence is a habit

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