5 Practices: Be Present

It’s impossible to be fully present 100% of the time.  We need distractions  -if only for a nanosecond to re-energize.   But today so many seem addicted to the distractions.  Convinced we can multi-task and be fully effective (we cannot).

Recall those rare moments when you were truly engaged with someone  –a colleague, child, friend, and yes, of course your pet.  Something remarkable was occurring during that engagement:  a deep connection with indescribable feelings/sensations; a near “absence of thought” in your own brain as you simply absorbed the words or sounds or behaviors of the other.

A Zulu greeting seems to capture the essence of what it means to Be Present.  When encountering another person, the greeting is “Sawu bona” (I see you).  The other responds “Sikhona” (I exist).  Until you “see” me (fully take in my being), I do not exist.  Ain’t it the truth:  if you’re not paying attention to me, then I might as well NOT exist, eh?

Imagine!  How rich and robust and remarkable our experience would be if we were fully present with each other.  And let’s add presence with Nature as well.  (I just breathed deeply with relief as I wrote those words.  And glanced skyward to see a prism of rainbow colors reflecting in far away clouds).

By being present we experience the enormous and wondrous power of the moment.  And if it’s a difficult moment, our presence enables us to share the reality with the other (instead of banging heads forcing different realities.)

Here are some quick tips:

  • Attune to your body.  You “know” things in your body 5,000 times faster than your brain can translate.  That gut feeling?  It’s signaling the greater truth.
  • Attend to your body language and tone in presence with others.  Body language comprises 50% of communication; tone 43%.  Words are worth only 7%.  Wow.
  • Ditch the phone while walking with your child, your friend.  A new client  –top tier executive in a large organization– actually met with me with her phone turned off!  “I never have it on when I’m talking with another person.”  Another wow.
  • Listen so intently that you can argue the other person’s point of view with passion.  (Thanks, Nancy Badore, my brilliant mentor.)
  • Trust that the moment is what it needs to be.  Set aside the distractions; they’ll return if they’re important, I promise.
  • Theory U is grounded in the notion of “presence.”  (See post in Optimizing Human Potential)
  • Check out Peter Senge et al and the book Presence:  Human Purpose and the Field of the Future.

I wonder…  Do accidents (as in mishaps) simply occur out of nowhere, or are they the result of distractions  –not being fully present?  Hmmm.