Present and Correct?
Or…..You might be in the room, but where exactly are you?
I have a predilection for being future-focused. I have a strong preference for having goals and milestones and plans and all that jazz. I am always looking forward, thinking about tomorrow, trying to create a future…
I used to find it quite hard to be present. To be here, now, in this moment. To take some time to smell the roses. To enjoy the journey as much as the destination. But it never bothered me until I started up my own business where the challenges are such that you really can disappear right up your own…future, if that is your focus and you’re not very careful.
I also had this sort of nagging feeling that not being present is not quite right somehow. When dealing with people, not being present might be a wee bit disrespectful, maybe a bit lazy, maybe even a tad self-absorbed, dare I say!
I then read that one of the real focus areas for sports psychologists is to get their charges totally present. Now that makes sense to me – if you are just about to attempt some wonderful physical feat, you really need to be there, don’t you. Not much point in thinking about next week’s game while you’re playing this week’s game.
Now work and life is not sport. But presence is required in all realms. There is a need for us to look forward and plan, envision, think big thoughts and look after projects and all the rest of it, but getting good stuff to happen to you and avoiding bad stuff happening to you will depend on what you do now, in the present, and being present while you do it.
And stuff is often about people. People need you to be present. Not paying lip service to them. Not a million miles away.
And I actually have a slightly gnawing feeling that not being present is a wee bit like…not being alive. Hmmm. Time for action.
So, I started to think about how to become more present. This is what I found worked for me –
- Get physical – take a deep breath and see what’s in front of you. Really see it. Tap your feet on the ground. Touch the table in front of you. Feel the temperature. Get aware of your surroundings.
- Get mental – say to yourself “I’m here! I’m here!”
- Get focused – one thing at a time – the thing in front of you.
- Get prepared – ask yourself what it is you want to remember about what you’re doing.
- Get aligned – when talking to someone, make their objective your objective. This is a powerful one. When I was being taught how to give feedback on a certain psychometric tool, I used to try to run through it quickly. I was probably somewhere else, or trying to get there, i.e. not present. It was suggested to me I might like to make “helping the other person to understand her profile” my goal, which was, after all, why she was in front of me. Bingo – that worked! Told you I was self-absorbed.
All this effort to be more present actually works. I do have to practice though, but that’s OK. I have to practice everything. That way I get better. I am more present more often. More alive. And that’s no bad thing.
What are the benefits of being more present?
- Well, I think I have more fun, especially with my family. In fact with people in general.
- This in turn leads to better relationships.
- I feel more alive which is pretty good.
- Stress is reduced. A lot of stress comes from worrying about the past or the future. The here and now is less populated with stressors.
- I also think I actually get more done because I am more focused, clearer headed and in the moment – you know the actual moment when I’m actually trying to actually do something. It’s got to have an impact on productivity.
So, if you sometimes feel you’re not really here, is it time to get present?