I’ve been roaming our property daily since early June looking for natural things that are small, beautiful, and great subjects for camera close ups and macro shots. It’s been a profound experience in learning to be present as I look for flowers, insects, and fungi. With my camera in hand, I see all kinds of things I didn’t notice before: flowers my husband (our resident landscaper) planted years ago, beautiful mushrooms as small as ¼ inch across and tiny insects that are new to me.
I see these things because I’m purposefully present to what is in front of me. As I’m looking for subjects to photograph, my mind isn’t preoccupied, my cell phone isn’t with me and my beloved dogs stay behind in the house because of the distractions they cause. My skill level in photography is increasing as I am becoming proficient at seeing the tiniest things I hadn’t before.
The experience in being present is absolutely joyous; I’m in the flow and time stands still. I get a little hit of endorphins (happy, feel-good hormones) every time I find a new subject worth capturing on camera. The pleasurable feeling relives itself when I upload compelling photos to my laptop.
So how is this “presence” useful at work?
Many years ago after just completing coach training, I called my coach in a fit of nervousness about an upcoming first meeting with a client – an officer of a company whom I’d briefly met but would be getting to know better. “What should I do?” I asked her as I was feeling inexperienced and inadequate. Her answer? “Just be present.” It was a wise and meaningful suggestion, and one that has served my clients well for many years.
It isn’t often in our always-on, high-distraction world that people have the experience of someone simply being present to them. Sometimes, that’s all they need, and the advantage for you in being present to them is the joy you feel as you connect, relate, and notice wonderful new qualities about that person. Their potential, their kindness, and their insight just might become clear for you.
As a leader, your ability to be present to noticing and discovering new things about the people around you can be a distinct advantage for you as you hire new talent and develop your team. The clarity you gain about other’s strengths helps you to become a better leader who knows how to assign work to those who are best at it. All the while, your team members are becoming stronger.
Put away that cell phone. Turn away from that laptop. Turn off the brain-chatter. Be present, listen and observe. Turn toward the people in front of you and set an intention to discover something new about them. It may be all you need on your journey to becoming the best leader you can be.
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