I’m going to show you what those look like and sound like as you navigate through the world. As a writer, noticing is a big part of my job, so I never go anywhere without my writer’s notebook. I’m constantly writing. I spend a lot of time in weird places, like airports, and I’m writing all the stories, the people I meet, the incredible lessons that I get just by waking up in the morning. I keep track of them and I fill notebook after notebook after notebook.
I got the chance to be in a school, it was an outside school from kindergarten through eighth grade. And of course, I had my notebook and it didn’t take the students very long to notice after every classroom that I was walking through, they were like coming up to me. “What did you write in notebook today?” What did you write in notebook today?
I said, “Oh, I witnessed a genius. I absolutely witnessed something indispensable to your learning. So I would write it down.”
And they are like “Really?”, and then I put names in it.
“Oh my gosh, I know that person.”
And then the next day, I got to be there for two weeks, so the next day they come up and they start handing me post-it notes. “Here, while I was out, I noticed you might want to put this in your notebook.”
And I thought “Wow” and after a couple of days I thought, “Well, this is silly, I’ve got this gold in my notebook.”
I asked the superintendent if I could spend the first two minutes going into every grade level, in every classroom just for two minutes today. Just give me two minutes a day. And all I’m going to do is go and read my notebook with the morning messages. “Today boys and girls, this is what your assignment is, oh by the way, I have to tell you what I noticed yesterday. Alicia did something amazing. When I saw her working on her writing dada dada da — Oh my gosh, you guys, you would not believe this. I noticed a third grader doing this yesterday –“
And I might be saying that to a seventh grade classroom. Three days, kids were carrying notebooks. They were writing down things, they were meeting me, they were helping each other. I could not believe the power of noticing and sharing what you noticed.
So I was just about to get on the plane, again in the airport, to leave, and a fourth grade class, had an emergency message over the intercom, they are like, “Mrs Maiers, Mrs Maiers, I need you to come down to the fourth grade classroom.”
I’m like, “What did I forget in there.” They sat me down in a chair, very serious looking. And they are like, “You have a problem.”
I’m like “I know this.”
“You have a problem.”
They are like, “Your notebook is almost full and you are losing stuff all over, you are a mess.”
So they went together and they bought me this. A new journal. And what is powerful about this is that they gave me every number imaginable because in case I needed a break, because noticing is a lot of work, they are going to take over for me and they each have a notebook and they send me and there’s a little “Ask Angela” button on my blog and they blogged me “This is what I noticed.” And they are my noticing ambassadors.
So, “Here’s my mom’s number.”
“Here’s my cellphone number.”
“Here’s my emergency phone number.”
“Just in case you see something or we see something while we are out and about. It has to go into your notebook.”
Because they know I’m going to write about it, they know I am going to talk about it. Phenomenal.
What if you carried a notebook? What if you made it a point to go back to your place of work or to your neighborhood or at the grocery store today and you make note of what you noticed. How indispensable it was. How genius it was. How significant it was. It changes people. And what I found at the school, it changes a culture, by just simply noticing, 30 seconds a day.
Kids aren’t the only ones who struggle and who strive to be noticed. Big people, spend a lot of time trying to get noticed as well. This is a real time counter on the web. Just look at it for five seconds. Five seconds, in real time of the world, right now, here as we speak, what are they trying to do? They are trying to be noticed. The web is not a data stream. The web is a life stream, and the significance of our life is dependent on how other people see us.
We have a chance to tell people: “I’m so glad you got up this morning. I noticed you.” It changes everything.
My second lesson. Noticing something that is significant is important but being able to articulate — and that’s the power of the notebook — Being able to articulate to someone exactly what you noticed and why that quality was indispensable or why that attribute was significant. That’s what really comes down deep. The need to know you are a value, is about as deep as they come.