Entrepreneurs, Experiences and Attention
I was lucky enough this week to read some of the work of Simone Weil.
And then, attempting not to be so clumsy in connection, thought about the philosophies of Weil and bring them into entrepreneurship. Specifically, around the exit journey.
Born in France, Simone Weil not only studied and wrote about philosophy, but taught and, latterly, lived the experiences of her studies, research, and thoughts.
From teaching to fighting in the Spanish Civil War, which showed remarkable bravery for someone with very poor eyesight and which led to an incident and severe injury with boiling oil, Weil very quickly positioned herself as one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century. There are many good books regarding her life; An Anthology is a great place to start, but let’s bring this back on track.
Simone Weil was a tremendously influential 20th century philosopher. Weil wrote many works around the word attention. Attention being paramount in creating both learning and experience. Weil wrote, and I quote, “We do not have to understand new things, but by dint of patience, effort and method to come to understand with our whole self the truths which are evident. Stages of belief. The most commonplace truth, when it floods the whole soul, is like a revelation. We have to try to cure our faults by attention and not by will.” Simone Weil’s teaching were exactly as she philosophised. She instructed her students to find fault with the problems and not to seek answers as a source of immediate comfort.
This really got me thinking about the entrepreneurial journey. Entrepreneurs (again, if the term exists) are surprisingly fleet of foot and finding opportunities and deals but mostly in a rush. There isn’t enough time in the day to really think about the word attention, let alone thinking about engaging with the word attention and engaging with attention as a conscious behaviour. Certainly, I personally hadn’t considered that to pay attention, or to actively be attentive, can change life experience and the plot of a direction or travel, or a life story. How many experiences do we dismiss because it is easy to drift through, rather than engage actively and challenge our perceptions, motives and stance?
How many opportunities do entrepreneurs potentially miss to exit because of the lack of attentional discipline?
Have I written this blog, or have you actively read it and given it the attention it might warrant? Or perhaps, as it can be easier, have you told yourself you ‘can skim read blogs as they are usually quite dull, and I’ll passively pick up key words’? Therefore, consciously deciding that attention isn’t really required and consequently missing experience and learning.
So what can we do in academia, and commerce, to continue to promote thinking and, in this case especially about, attention?
And I’ve deliberately finished this blog with just that question….