Last week one of my wife’s friends had her purse stolen, which of course means everything else was taken as well. The problem here is that no one ran up to her and took it from her. There was no struggle at all.

It turns out she’d gone to the library and signed up on a computer. She sat her purse down next to her and got fully engrossed into what she was researching. She was so into it that she didn’t pay any attention to the person who was briefly sitting next to her. She knew there was a presence, but that was all. She never looked up, never even had a thought that someone who might sit next to her might have his eye on her purse. At least she believes it was a male; she’s not totally sure about that either.

Of course her story proves an interesting point. Many of us get so engrossed in some things that we don’t pay attention to what’s going on around us. For the most part it works out in our favor. I’ve always appreciated how my mind blocks out distractions when I really get involved in a project. But there are times when that kind of thing might have unintended consequences as well.

For instance, if you’re a leader and you don’t notice what your employees are doing because you’re in your own little world, that’s going to hurt you eventually. If you’re someone that drives really fast while talking on the phone and you’re continually laughing and closing your eyes instead of keeping your eyes on that road, eventually that’s going to catch up with you. If you’re someone who eats unconsciously while watching TV, just to have something to do, eventually you’re going to gain weight, and wonder where it came from.

I wrote a review on my other blog of the movie Being In Heaven, where the main “character” in the movie, who also produced the movie and was pretty much being himself, Michael Domeyko Rowland, was saying that when we slow down and are more conscious of our actions, we actually start to gain control of our lives and will see amazing things start to happen, even for the smallest things.

While I’ll admit that trying to be conscious of leaving my desk to get a drink of water one day felt really strange, I also did notice some things on the journey and in the process that I had never paid any attention to before, things that I usually do automatically without a thought. It was illuminating, but it also takes a lot of work. All of us trust our consciousness to take care of us on the mundane things so we can spend our time thinking about more important things, yet sometimes those mundane things are pretty important. I say that as someone who’s walked into holes I didn’t notice because my mind assumed that the ground was still there.

Consciousness of actions is an important concept when it comes to dealing with others as well. I tend to believe that many slights that occur on a daily basis come because people aren’t as conscious as to how their actions or words affect others. I laughed hard at an old Seinfeld episode about the “close talker”, but how many of us have been in that position, and how did you handle it, no matter which side you were on? How do we react with certain words or terms that might imply there’s something wrong or different about us from everyone else?

How conscious are you of your actions or words? How conscious are you of your eyes moving as you read this article? And how conscious will you be in your next actionable process, whether it’s something you’re doing on your desk or in talking to someone else? I bet that’ll be interesting for you.