Presence puts you in the moment and allows you to deal with what’s going on at the current time. You have control over how you are experiencing the situation, and you are not stuck day-dreaming about the past or future.
When you are present in thought and actions, others will see that you are with them and where they are, not off in outer space. Part of having a strong leadership vision is knowing the past, present, and the future of what you are doing.
However, living too much in the future, or basing your decisions solely off past experience, can be devastating to your leadership.
Stuck In A Different World When we let the past dictate our actions and behavior, or we constantly think of past mistakes or events that challenged us, we lose our sense of presence. Many times people get stuck in the past when they’ve experienced something negative and they are afraid to let go of the memory for fear that they will experience the negative emotion again.
For instance, when parents lose their sons and daughters in combat, they may get stuck dwelling in the past on what they could have done to prevent it. Or, they may get stuck in remembering all of the events of their children’s lives because they feel that’s the way they can be close to their child.
Letting go would be giving up on their child, and the parents would have to experience the loss all over again. This type of behavior robs the person of their ability to experience the world in the here and now and work towards a happy life.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, some people get lost in dreaming about what the future could be. People get stuck wishing and hoping that change will come. However, leaders realize that wishing and hoping change will come will not bring about change. Leaders must take action in the present so that they can reap the rewards of their actions in the future.
The trick is to not be held by the past, and to not live in the future. The best place to be is the present. When someone has presence, it means they are in the here and now, observing what’s going on and interacting with the environment in very immediate ways. Presence gives us a sense of urgency and allows us to have real moments.
Super Presence Building Activity “Carpe diem” is Latin for “seize the day.” The phrase comes from a poem written by the Roman poet Horace some time before his death in 8 B.C. The phrase literally means “gather from” or “make use of” the day. In philosophical terms, the phrase means to enjoy the pleasures of the here and now because we don’t know what will happen in the future.
In terms of leadership, you can design the future, but you cannot be certain of it. You must make use of your days to the best of your ability so that you can reap the rewards of your envisioned future. Making use of your days means preparing for a better future by living in the now, or working towards your vision by being present in the moment. A great way to increase your presence is to practice being present in the moment. Practice these steps and see what a difference it can make:
- Take inventory of everything you have around you. Use your senses to describe what you can feel, hear, taste, smell, and see. Take 10 to 15 minutes and write down all of the things in your environment.
- Acknowledge the people in your immediate environment and make them the center of your focus. Ask them questions about their day or life, and listen intently. Sometimes genuine and purposeful interaction can snap us out of living in the past or future and help us to see what’s happening in the here and now.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Take a deep breath, hold it for 10 seconds, then exhale. Do this 5 or 6 times thinking of nothing else other than your breathing. Breathing awareness can increase your ability to focus on the moment.
- Pretend you are encountering something familiar for the first time. How would you react? Investigate your immediate surroundings and interact with them. Approaching people, places and things with a childlike curiosity can bring you into the moment.