The Power of Noticing


This weekend I re watched one of my favorite movies, Shall We Dance. And  as cute as Richard Gere was in the movie (and boy was he!),  my attention centered on a moment in where his onscreen wife,  Susan Sarandon whispered these words in his ear:

“We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.”

Although the quote is referring to marriage, I think the need of a human being to be noticed, to be witnessed, to matter, is behind much of the popularity in all social media, and is captured – or projected – most acutely in Twitter. I don’t mean to equate the Twitter follower / followee relationship with marriage – indeed, with most Twitter users having multiple followers and/or followees, this would be akin to an extreme case of polygamy – but I do believe that this quote captures the spirit of the ambient intimacy afforded by by this amazing platform.

As a writer, educator, and lover of learning and life, I have made noticing a discipline practice.  Whether I am in the classroom or working with the world, I make noticing genius a priority. I make it a habit to put key actions, phrases, and reminders of all that I have been witness to, so that I can share it with others that I have the privilege to teach.

I encourage others to do the same. I now ask children to help me be a “world- class noticers” ; to take note of and collect the wisdom that lies around them.

So the next time you send a tweet, meet a friend, or have the chance to learn with another, plan to notice more. Use your eyes. Use your ears. Use all your senses. And do not hesitate to say to one another:  “I Notice” you.

Watch the learning come to life!


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  • Drjoanmcgettigan

    Ah, I remember that scene. Noticing . . . being aware . .. I think this goes with everything. I sometimes forget just how much beauty is around us but my children notice and they remind me to stop and notice too. I got very used to “not noticing” when I lived in NYC but now, life is a bit slower and I am trying to notice again. Thanks for the excellent reminder.

  • Harold
  • Linda Perry

    I bet you’re a wonderful teacher and should be cloned:)

  • Damien Riley

    Nice observation Angela. But what about the really needy kids that just can’t get enough attention? In those cases it’s important to ration energy I think. Oh, and I really like that movie too.

  • Sandywatts01

    I realy enjoyed your article.  You have a wonderful concept of making noticing genius a priority.  We never know what may happen around us, but it is good to be alert to tell others about what we can notice.  Noticing is a good way to keep our class up to date with events that occur in everyday life. Everyone wants attention, even children in the classroom.  In a marriage, commitment is an important factor.  Children feel much eager to learn when they know that we are committed to teach and notice them.  As in a marriage, when you love a person you can’t help but care about everything concerning them.

  • Laurie Hansen

    Hi Angela and all!

    Funny, I jotted down some YOU MATTER moments in recent movies I’ve seen as a reaction to your TEDx talk but never shared them.  This seems like a good time since you’ve brought up films in your post.  I think this may helps others relay the message to kids. 

    After I saw Angela Maeir’s TEDx video,  it made me think of some of the recent YOU MATTER moments I have seen on the big screen.  One occurred in Super8 when the main character, Joe Lamb, seemed to telepathically express, “You matter,” to the alien.  Another was in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets  when Lucias Malfoy unknowingly handed a book (containing a sock) to Dobby, thanks to Harry.  Harry’s actions expressed Dobby’s worth as a human being, uh,
    elf.   In movies, this is a turning point for the character. Imagine what it can do for a child…. In the words of Eeyore, “Thanks for noticing!” ~A.A. Milne


  • Angela Maiers

    I hear you Laurie! I can not even watch a movie without thinking of the message and importance of mattering. It is taking over my social life now….and I love it! Thank you for noticing this important and world changing idea. I am so thrilled you are in this with me so we can bring it to everyones attention! #youmatter 

  • Angela Maiers

    Yes, I did notice his dancing as well! He is very easy to not miss! I am so thrilled to have met you at SOBCon; it was truly one of the highlights of my time. I am so excited for May and catching up with you!

    You are a gift to so many Paula- I notice you! #Youmatter

  • Angela Maiers

    Thank you Sandy! It is such a simple that to do, but so easy to overlook. I am thrilled that these small reminders are resonating with so many. You are so right- everyone big and small want and deserve attention. Thank you for noticing! 

  • Angela Maiers

    Thanks Damien! Great to see you in the conversation with me! I think the really needy kids just need the right kind of attention. They are getting attention, but far to often for the wrong things. If we noticed them first; they would be less likely to do whatever they can to get us to notice them. IMHO

  • Angela Maiers

    Checking it out now Harold! Thank you for the share. I am a big fan and follower! Learn so much by “noticing” what you do! Thank you.

  • Angela Maiers

    I agree with you Dr. Joan; noticing is not only a teaching thing- it is a life thing. People who live their lives noticing experience life “wide- awake’. Far too many are walking through days half asleep and missing out on so much! 

  • Shawn Murphy

    You create such great messages. I’m keen on this one! To notice and then to  say you notice can make such a powerful connection and help loosen us up a bit in our interactions and actions to help one another.

    Nice post!


  • Wayne McEvilly

    Angela – I am very fortunate to have discovered you blog. Simplicity and brevity conveying content beyond those dimensions, reaching out with ‘useful’ simply understood phrases which are not at all ‘jargon’ but expressions of basic truths – I find that here. 
    Thank you.

  • Outsourcing Today

    Critics help in molding. But I have nothing to criticize about your blog but truly appreciate the way you present. You have the art of presenting and writing. Keep up the good work.Keep up the good work

  • Michael Q Todd

    I live in a constant state of fascination and notice everything

  • Molly Cantrell-Kraig

    I became mindful of this concept when I started meditation and yoga. Centering, awareness and the greeting “namaste” (“The spirit in me respects the spirit in you,” “the divinity in me bows to the divinity in you,” and others, are relatively modern interpretations, based on literal translations of the Sanskrit root of namaste.They are usually associated with western Yoga and New Age movements. Source: wikipedia). 

    Acknowledging others became the pathway to honoring myself, ironically. From this awareness, I also use a mantra when frustrated or upset with my fellow travelers: “We’re all in this together.”

    What a gift you are, Angela. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. :) 

  • Molly Cantrell-Kraig

    Duly noted. Well put. :)

  • Penelope

    This made me cry.

  • Angela Maiers

    I notice you too my friend! Your passion is contagious and unmatchable! And yes, I noticed Richard Gere too! He is a hard one to miss! LOL!

  • Angela Maiers

    Thank you Wayne! I so appreciate this! I agree with you one hundred percent- there is just too much jargon out there in every field! I am all for getting back to the basic, simple truths! So appreciate you taking the time to read and reflect on this with me.

  • Angela Maiers

    Thank you so much Shawn- that is a powerful compliment coming from you! Noticing is so simple and so neglected both on and offline. But, as you say, it is at the heart of making and sustaining powerful connections!

  • Angela Maiers

    Oh, I hope in a good way Penelope! I so notice you and thank you for taking time to notice this message! 

  • Angela Maiers

    That is so funny that my blog was a school assignment. However you got here, I am so glad that you stayed a loyal reader. I so notice and appreciate that! 

    You are spot on when you say:  Whether it be for academics, athletics, music or whatever else; people really have a desire to be noticed.

    Thanks for the link to your blog, I will definitely be checking that out- noticing away! 

  • Angela Maiers

    I love that Molly- noticing awakens the spirit in all of us. What a beautiful concept making the mission to notice even more valuable. Noticing is not only an act of respect; it is an act of honor.

    It has been an honor noticing you my friend! Thank you for taking the time to share this perspective. 

  • Angela Maiers

    Michael- that does not surprise me one bit! That is exactly what makes you so smart, fascinating, and influential to so many! Thank you for noticing me and for the connections we have yet to come! 

  • Angela Maiers

    Linda! That so made me smile! Thank you my friend! :-)

  • Barb Bohan

    Powerful! I hope everyone will have at least one huge fan in their lives!

  • Susan Riley

    Have you ever read the children’s story “Small Beauties: The Journey of Darcy (Heart) O’Hara”?  The book takes place during the Irish Potato Famine and documents her family’s journey to America.  In it, Darcy is characterized as a “noticer”, which I always thought was a great term for kids.  There is such emphasis on really taking the time to absorb and see the world through many different eyes.  Thanks for the post, Angela!

  • AxelS

    Good catch – great comparison – awesome way to put it together!

  • Angela Maiers

    Ahhh Barb!

    I think you just did!! :-)

  • dotell Have you ever seen this stuff and what do you think of it?

  • Angela Maiers

    Thank you Wayne for the very kind words. I have loved connecting with you here and on Twitter! 

  • paulcastain

    Boy did this post speak to me!

    First and foremost . . . Awesome movie and love the song “Sway” but more importantly, we all want that witness, we all want to be noticed and we all want to know that we matter!

    Thank you Angela!

  • Andy Konstantinidis

    It’s not about looking it’s about seeing (or noticing as you put it), it’s not about experiencing it’s about living, it’s not about speaking it’s about meaning… it’s all about being there, in the present moment, being conscious and attentive…if you’re interested, you will be interesting!

  • Angela Maiers

    Thank you Paul. I love the song Sway as well and just loaded it on itunes as another reminder of the importance and power of noticing! Thank you!

  • Angela Maiers

    Great point Andy! We “look” at the world everyday thru our eyes and minds. Noticing requires the heart. When we notice we seek to honor, understand, and appreciate. Love this quote:  “if you are interested, you will be interesting. For sure!!

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