Like most people you are probably very busy finishing things before Christmas. You are so busy that you very likely can’t stop thinking about all the things you still need to do, and this often makes you lose track of the things that are right in front of you. It can feel almost impossible to be present, and sometimes it gets to a point where it is almost easier to make it stay that way.
Unfortunately, for many people this is not only when we are busy in December; the inability to be present is an increasing problem. Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours thinking about something else regardless of the situation we find ourselves in.
Why is it a problem when you are not present?
When we are not present we simply do not have access to our full resources. For all your senses to be fully active you must be present. No e-mails, no phones, no wandering off in your mind when you are supposed to be engaged with the people/situation right in front of you.
Even if you are currently successful, your performance will suffer in each and every one of the following areas when you are not present:
- Dialogue: It is simply impossible to actively listen when you are not present, and at some point you will miss information that is vital to the conversation taking place.
- Decision making: You will base your decisions on limited data, which will result in decisions of a poorer quality.
- Proactivity: If you are missing out on crucial, often indicative information, you will be less able to handle a situation proactively.
- Creativity/innovation: Only when you are present will you have access to the parts of your brain and body that facilitate creativity/innovation. It is a state of mind that can only be accessed if you are present.
Also, being absent prohibits meaningful relationships, both professionally and privately. When you are not present you are simply not able to connect with other people. In organizations where the leader is not present, the culture and relationships suffer in a way that affects performance because the quality of the human connections is poor. As human beings we need to feel like we belong, and if there is a culture of not being present you lose the glue that keeps the organization together.
Thus the consequences of not being present significantly affect the results you are able to deliver. If you can recognize the situations above I will encourage you to start training to be present. It is a state of mind that you can train yourself to recognize and access quickly and easily.
1. Train to be present
Choose 5 minutes each day where you train to be present with all your senses. Begin with less complicated situations, for instance during a private break, then slowly increase the complexity as your level of presence improves. The only thing you need is to experience these 5 minutes with all of your senses. What is right in front of you? How does it look, taste, feel? Very often this is referred to as mindfulness.
2. Feeling present
Recall a situation where you were fully present and use your senses to describe what that was like for you. This will be the place to go to when you are trying to gain presence.
3. Let your intention and presence inspire your actions
Before you enter any activity be clear about your intention regarding the situation (Link to other blog) and then let your presence guide you in the situation. It is more important to be present than to follow detailed protocols. Together intention and presence is the road to success in your work-life.
Happy Holidays – and good luck with being present.