A Realistic Approach to Being Present

You waited for the other shoe to drop before COVID-19. You will wait for the shoe-drop after COVID-19.

Leaders and managers exist because:

  1. Solutions are hard to find.
  2. Improvement needs relentless attention.
  3. Chaos demands active intervention.

The present sucks. Why practice being present? But…

You’re absent if you’re not present.

You’d be a better leader if you were present when you showed up.

A realistic approach to being present:

47% of the time people are thinking about something other than what they’re doing. (Matt Killingsworth)

#1. Being present isn’t liking everything.

Leaders turn toward storms. I’d choose sunny weather over turbulence any day. But turbulence is opportunity.

#2. Control freaks should love being present.

The present is a control freak’s paradise.

The present is your point of control. You can’t control the past or the future.

But most control freaks are frantic because it’s safer to focus on things you can’t control.

#3. Remove avoidable distraction.

It’s hard to be present when you have the attention span of a squirrel in traffic.

  1. Read email on a schedule. Try doing email at the top and the bottom of the hour, for example.
  2. Turn off notifications unless you work in a crisis management center. You’re a lousy leader if people can’t live without you for 30 minutes.
  3. Close unused browser windows. You won’t come back to them later.
  4. Schedule a few minutes of down time every 60 to 90 minutes. No one can pay attention all the time.
  5. Do one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is an evil myth.

#4. Write down three daily goals.

Goals help you focus.

Focus is being present.

#5. Walk around noticing.

You might notice what you see. Or you might set out to notice something specific like the energy level of your team members.

Noticing is being present.

What distracts you from being present?

How might leaders improve their practice of being present?

Bonus material:

7 Ways to Tame Your Wandering Mind and Achieve Better Focus (New Scientist)

How to Focus a Wandering Mind (Berkley)

Tools for Leading Through Disruption!

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