The Size of Our Attention Spans

Do me a favor and take three minutes to watch this music video:

Now, do I have your strict attention?

Every morning for the last month, I’ve started my day with a mantra from the song above: “Your power is the size of your attention span.” It’s a reminder of what real power is – not money or fame, but the ability to concentrate on the challenge of our generation.

This summer, as I spend my fourth summer as a part of the Twin Cities Summer of Solutions, I’m seeing what happens when a lot of people come together and dedicate their attention to fixing something.  And with nearly 45 people in the program, half of whom are committing at least 40 hours a week to this work, we have a pretty incredible collective attention span. As we work on revolutionizing energy-efficiency in South Minneapolis, implementing green manufacturing in Highland Park, growing food in Harrison, and increasing bike access to communities in Frogtown and Rondo, our biggest asset very well might be the collective attention we can bring to each project.

I can feel the way my own attention span, when broken, limits my work. When I look at a problem by myself, I can easily get bogged down by a mess of internal voices: the voice of fear that tells me I’m not brave enough, the voice of doubt that tells me I’m not ready to act, the voice of distraction that tells me there are more fun things I could be doing.

But when I come together with my teammates and let their voices – hopeful, courageous, focused, and creative voices – bring my attention back to what’s important, the power of it hits me like a sledgehammer.

Invincible paraphrases Franz Fanon in her song by saying “Each generation must find its mission, fulfill or betray it.” My crew, the Twin Cities Summer of Solutions, knows our mission and  and knows we must hold each other accountable to fulfilling it. When we help each other hold our attention on our mission, we build real power.

1 thought on “The Size of Our Attention Spans

  1. Hey,
    This is so great. There’s been many a few times this summer that I’ve felt the same way. It’s good to have reminders of how awesome and important our work is this summer.

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