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Give more attention

My 2014 Resolution

Give more attention

My 2014 Resolution


Last year, for my 2013 resolutions I proposed 3 simple improvements. I’m doing ok by all 3 — being more patient, trying to be more present, and bettering my health. Well probably more work to do on my health. But I basically forgot these 3 resolutions by the time January ended.

So for 2014, I’m going to keep it simpler, every day I’m going to focus on one thing:

Give more attention

That’s it. Should be pretty easy to remember. If you meet me, feel free to quiz me on it.

As I was thinking about this resolution, I wondered why most people say pay attention. I don’t think pay is the right word for attention at all. It’s not like it’s something we can earn later, bank up, and then spend or pay. And it’s not like if I pay you with my attention you can take it and pay someone else with that earned attention.

Instead, attention is something we can only give. Even more interesting, everyone has exactly the same amount to give. No matter how rich or poor you are, whether you have a job or not, the one thing we all have exactly the same amount of is time. And the only thing we can do with our time is choose what to give our attention to with that time. So the more we give our attention to each other, the better off we all are. It’s amazing to have something that we can keep giving and everyone appreciates it.

I have no idea why the phrase is pay, but from now on I’m going to focus on giving as much attention as I can to the things I commit to.

Over time, I feel like we are all giving less and less attention to anything. We now give continuous partial attention to many things at once. But this is not working. When someone is checking their phone every few minutes during a conversation or dinner, it means they aren’t really giving full attention to that conversation. Now maybe the conversation is boring, but the distractions are now just too easy.

So my resolution and focus for 2014 is to give attention to the things that are most important to me.

Things I’m going to give more attention to:

(1) My family — they deserve more attention than I think I currently give. I’m too often on staring at a new notification or tweet on my phone when I should be giving them full focused attention.

(2) The people I work with —I’m going to focus on giving as much attention, time, and support as I can to every company I am involved with, and do everything I can to help them become as successful as possible. And to my partners at Greylock.

(3) The people I hope to work with — in my job I meet a lot of great entrepreneurs, product managers, engineers, and other investors. I hope I’ll get to work with many of them in the future, and when we meet I will give them my full attention and focus.

(4) My friends —I can always give more attention to friends. Of course whenever they need a friend, and but even more when they don’t and we can just hang and be friends.

(5) Myself — I always need to do better with my health. It’s still too comfortable to just eat something fast or what sounds good vs eating healthy and what’s best for me. I’m going to give more attention to what I eat and to exercise this year.

Things I’m going to give less attention to:

(1) My iphone—it is so easy to give attention to the latest beep, distraction, and message that comes in. But it will be much better if I can give attention when it’s the right time instead of interrupting the attention I am giving to someone or something else. If you know me, this will be hard, but I need to do better.

(2) The hype — in our industry, there is always so much hype about the latest thing that is going to be great and the latest trends everyone must do. Companies take a long time to build, and a lot of patience. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook were all 7-8 years from inception to IPO. So rather than reading and commenting on every hot new thing, I’m going to give much less attention to they hype cycle and give more attention to the things that are real lasting and long term.

(3) The hate —Ben Horowitz’s post on Can-Do Culture is one of the best I’ve read in a very long time and gets right to the point on why the hate, and mob scenes are getting out of hand. Twitter is amazing because it lets us communicate in real time at scale with each other, and cause people to come together for many amazing things. But the hate and mob scenes I’m starting to see (e.g. #HasJustineLandedYet, #IHateUberSurgePricing) are getting out of hand. I’m going to give this much less attention in 2014, and focus on what people are making instead of tearing down.