Be Here Now

Some time ago we had supper with a delightful couple. Our friend was going through a particularly difficult time in his life at that time. After the meeting I commented to Kris “I feel such compassion for Steve” To which Kris replied, “His name is not Steve. It’s Joe!”

Where was my mind when I had dinner that night with Joe? I was busted for not being fully present on our dinner date.

We live in a hyperkinetic and multi-tasking milieu and there is no more important advice that we can give or receive than

BE HERE NOW

We all have experienced some or all of the following. We are

On a conference call checking our e-mail while others talk

Listening to our partner with half an ear and thinking of several projects at the same time

Continually distracted by intrusive thoughts

Totally or partially disconnected from our feelings

And the result is

Everyone knows we are not fully listening

We miss important pieces of information

We live with unnecessarily high levels of stress

We lower our intellectual and emotional horsepower

And we call Joe, Steve.

In fact, we live up (or down) to the spirit of the ditty

There was a man my grandfather knew

Who had so many things he wanted to do

That whenever he thought it was time to begin

He couldn’t because of the state he was in.

So what is the answer?

First, one does not have to become a spiritual expert with high levels of mindfulness that can be sustained for long periods. That takes years of meditation practice. We can start with small steps now.

Secondthere is no second. In fact, there is no excuse for us not developing the clarity of thinking, focused listening, and inner tranquility for short periods of time that help us be more effective leaders and empathic partners.

Here are some possible rudimentary steps we can take.

1.     Take time out from electronic devices in meetings and in general. I know an executive who receives 300-400 email a day and has learned so to prioritize that he only responds to 10 a day. Such prioritizing is not easy but is possible.

2.    When you listen to people, hit the pause button in our minds. Don’t try and formulate an answer and ask yourself not just “What is this person saying?” but also “How do they feel about it?” and “Why is it important to them?”

3.     Recognize that there will still be more work to do after your fourteen-hour day. So set limits on yourself and go home and have supper with your family, turn off your Blackberry, and focus fully on the people most important to your life.

4.    Get a life apart from your work. The list of possibilities is endless but do something where you make a contribution and above all have fun.

Have you ever noticed the gaps between musical notes. If these spaces were not there one would have noise. Reduce the noise in your life by finding silent spaces. And post a notice in your office “Be here now”.

Question

What small steps have you taken to “Be here now”?

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About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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4 Responses to Be Here Now

  1. I so agree, Cedric. I try and practice being present when I walk the dog (every morning). I make myself stop on the walk and just listen and look, trying to notice new things, I have learnt how to recognise the sound of a kingfisher, and now can spot him before he spots me. I also try not to notice when I start the walk, so that I am not competing with myself over how quickly I can complete it!

    I’ve also taken to buying books in hardback form. Then I can read them where there is no internet connection.

    And because we live in a house with granite walls, we have one room with no internet in it. In there we can only read or talk. Works well!

    • cedricj says:

      Wow Michael! You are really getting unplugged from the hustle and bustle of life. I find, like you, that being present is intentional. If not, other things crowd out the discipline of silence. Thanks for your contribution.

      • The other place I love to do this is in majestic building. Took my daughter to St Pauls cathedral recently and we sat and listened to Evensong. Heavenly voices echoing around. Nothing to do but think and reflect. Perfect, we emerged so energised!!

  2. cedricj says:

    I love sitting in St Paul’s myself. So many majestic buildings in London. I also think of all the people who have sat doing the same thing over the centuries.

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