Just noticing

On Friday morning I picked up two delightful Tweets. Yes, they are out there if you choose your friends wisely…

The first was a stunningly beautifully StillWalk from the artist Alastair Duncan.

Frost and a Songthrush is a visual and auditory experience that transports us to a wonderfully crisp morning on the Loughor Estuary marshes near Pontardulais in south west Wales.

But not only did it generously offer us sights and sounds which we wouldn’t otherwise have encountered. It also demonstrated Alastair’s finely tuned skills of noticing. And he is a master!

The second was a profound comment from the gentle and perceptive Dr Charlie Jones:

Today I met 4 new colleagues for group supervision and 3 new patients.

I recall an old mentor saying “Much of what you need to know is right there in the first session, you just have to notice it.“

Engaging with new people. Being present, taking it all in with open heart and mind.

Charlie is a clinical psychologist in North Bristol who also shares generously. Here he offers the simple foundation for being present and taking things in at a deeper level.

However, this wisdom is applicable much more widely than clinical practice…

On noticing

Noticing is such a powerful act. It speaks of being intentional in our observation. Of being kind and generous in our presence.

And I love it.

Why? Because it prompts me to bring my whole self to a conversation or an encounter.

It also reminds me that I am taking things in with all of my senses and need to treat respectfully what I absorb. Not automatically rejecting some things in preference for others.

Listening and seeing – as opposed to just hearing and looking – enables us to make sense of the wider context. And pursue a curiosity about what is, or is not, being communicated.

Therefore, it does require attention infused with generosity and kindness. Respecting the other and not assuming we know it all. We are far too wonderfully complex creatures for any other person to ever fully know us.

And cultivating our capacity for noticing is truly rewarding. Because being heard and being seen is one of the most affirming things we can do for each other.

Change starts here…

The other dimension that emerged from Charlie’s observation is that any change has to start in reality. In what is right in front of us, not where we’d rather be.

So often we want to be somewhere or someone else. Or we assume that the problem is X, when it’s Y that is showing up here and now.

Starting with what is present requires us to cultivate an attitude of curiosity. Really noticing and observing but without judgement. Of enabling what is here to surface because change can only start from this place.

It’s no good looking elsewhere.

We have to exercise the courageous vulnerability of being real. Of noticing what is here, now, and starting with that.

Actually, this is gloriously liberating.

We don’t have to come up with a complicated process or explanation. This is the reality of life before our own eyes.

When I say “I am noticing that…“ I am doing it without jumping to conclusions. It’s useful data, So why not value it as part of the jigsaw, or as one of a cluster of dots to be joined up?

It helps form the picture. Which then gives us the clues as to what’s next, and why that might be helpful.

And finally – breathe together

I thought I had finished drafting this reflection when I noticed a Tweet shared by Brigid Russell on Friday afternoon. Brigid is one of the most generous and practised ‘noticers’ that I know…

Anyway, Brigid had shared a Tweet from Sarah Taylor from Thrive Wise on allowing the questions to breathe. This was so profound that I wanted to share it.

Here is the extended quote that Sarah referred to from Jeff Foster:

Breathe together

It’s easy to teach, to preach, to give memorised answers.
It’s easy to be an expert.

It’s harder to listen, to really listen.
To be still and wait.
To give someone space.
To receive them with your whole being.

When you think you know what “best“ for someone,
when you’re excited by your own vision,
when you want to jump in with great advice,
take a deep breath.
Slow down.

Your friend may not need what’s “best“ right now.
They may just need you.

Kinship can be the most potent medicine.

Sometimes true answers emerge
when questions are allowed to breathe.

Jeff Foster

Thanks for being here today. May you notice all you need for your next steps


This week

Has been an extended reflection on listening. I suspect I needed to hear it…