Being present is the ability to be completely in the moment and flexible enough to handle the unexpected.
~ Take a moment to consider how useful this can be in every day life:
When you are driving; playing golf or tennis; walking the dog; preparing food; or looking after a toddler. When we are present we are focused and alert.
~ And how useful at work:
When you are under pressure; about to make a presentation; giving feedback in a performance review; receiving feedback; when you notice you aren’t getting things done because you can’t focus; when dealing with conflict; when you need to make an important decision.
When we learn to come in to the present moment, we can overcome fear and become focused, alert and be our best.
Being present not only benefits us, but others too.
When you face and overcome fear you build confidence in yourself. Confident people are attractive. People are drawn to you – bosses, peers and those you lead. You can be relied on to do a good job. You build trust.
Being focused and ready also inspires confidence within others. You become a role model for others to be their best.
The advantages of being present are obvious. We are at our best when we are fully in the moment.
But why is it so difficult to get here?
There are many reasons, but most of all its because the “moment” keeps changing. Our world is always in motion, and with today’s technology everything is speeded up. Everyone is trying to do several things at once, yet no one thing gets our full attention. This frantic activity exacerbates the underlying problem – how we react to our own feelings of fear.
In one form or the other, fear is what keeps us from being present.
When we feel fear it isn’t the feeling itself that keeps us from being present but the thoughts that we attach to the fear that create problems.
There are two human responses to fear:
- Fight or Flight Response.
One of the biggest obstacles to being present is the adrenaline rush that comes when we humans face a threat. Our body goes into hyper-drive as we prepare to attack or run away at great speed. When the physical threat is real it can save our lives. But this same response is triggered by our pressure packed high stakes days, key meetings, and often the commute itself!
- Our Inner Critic.
Most people describe their inner critic as a voice or voices in their heads that constantly evaluate their behavior. It is every person’s Achilles Heel. The inner critic is a contracting diminishing voice. As it grows louder, we become smaller, weaker and less open. The inner voice can be so powerful that it prevents many people from ever trying.
Even the most confident of people have an inner critic.
To find out more about the practice of being present, please click on this page.
Part 2 of this post will look at the 4 practical ways to become more present and mindful in our daily lives.
*Note: This post was inspired and adapted from “Leadership Presence” by Belle Linda Halper and Kathy Lubar.