Time Travel and the Value of Practicing Presence

We are masters of time travel

Racing back to the future




Always on our way somewhere else

To something else

Everywhere but here and now

The prevailing story is that we have more distractions, more information and more decisions pressing on our lives than ever before. Our attention span is shrinking; as little as 20 seconds according to some experts. In our fear of missing out, we’re missing what matters.

Leaders in many organizations are stretched to breaking; juggling meetings, emails, inquiries and issues. As we manage the task in front of us we are already considering the next or perhaps mulling over a more complex issue that awaits our attention.

This frantic mental traffic puts us into a trance.

We see without seeing.

We listen without hearing.

Our body is here.

Our mind is in another place and time.

What does this mean in practical terms?

We need you.

And you are not here.

If we truly believe that the key to organizational progress, change and success lies in releasing the creative potential, discretionary effort, and untapped energy in people, then we must recognize the importance of our relationships. We must learn to bring our attention back to this moment, to this person, to this conversation and all the possibility it represents.

To connect with people you must be present.

To see problems clearly you must be present.

To release your creativity you must be present.

To expand your vision you must be present.

Presence goes against the grain. It requires intention and practice. Our minds are conditioned. Our habits are hardwired. Yet with practice, we learn to break the pattern and wake from the trance.

Presence is a gift to yourself.

When we are present we can see and accept what is happening right here, right now. It is not another type of trance. It is the opposite. In this state, we have full access to our senses, our emotions, our imagination, and our accumulated experience. We have the capacity for wise reflection.

We’ve all experienced this focused presence. Some call it “flow”. We are never in a better position to make a real, lasting impact.

Presence is a gift to others.

When we are not present people feel it. We feign attention and respond from our programming but we miss the underlying story or unspoken need. We miss the person in our attempt to address the problem so we can move on to other things. They leave with a nagging sense of rejection or misunderstanding. Words left unspoken.

Presence says – “I see you.”

Presence says – “I hear you”

Presence says – “You matter”

Presence says – “I care.”

When we give the gift of presence we make a critical investment in our relationships and our leadership.

A simple place to start is to turn your attention to the movement of your breath. Notice what is happening in your body and release the tension you may be feeling. Notice your brow. Is it furrowed, tense? Relax your face and let that feeling flow down the length of your body. You’ll feel the difference right away.  Just let your body relax. Smile.

Notice your racing thoughts and let them fade. If something is pressing on your mind, write it down so you know you can come back to it later and that you won’t forget. Turn off the distractions. Become an observer. Take it all in. Give yourself permission to be right here. To make the most of this opportunity.

The only time you really have is this moment. Don’t miss it.

Practicing meditation or similar disciplines can be a great way to learn the power of presence.

For deeper insight into this topic check out the video Part 1: Basic Elements of Meditation Practice by Tara Brach. I especially appreciated the story of the violinist that starts around 5:33.

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