Being Present

The greatest defense against passivity, mediocrity, and ambivalence might be presencing. The guru on being present, Peter Senge, in Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Society, and Organizations, states “Too often, we remain stuck in old patterns of seeing and acting. By encouraging deeper levels of learning, we create an awareness of the larger whole, leading to actions that can help to shape its evolution and our future.”

involved

But it takes muscle and determination to break our evolutionary responses of fight or flight – neither of which live, well, in the moment. As we simply react rather than rest in and reflect on the circumstances, we reinforce habitual behavior (hear certainty) that stifles or worse strangles curiosity and learning.

While most of the time we aren’t in the kind of danger that requires the amygdala response I, frankly, suck at being present. My tendency is to live through time rather than in it. I am looking towards the next moment, the next appointment, the next thing. My attention drifts because I practice distraction instead of attention. Most people I encounter, from 7-year-old grandchildren to 30 something postmoderns are seeking the next stimulus and then the next. We bypass opportunities in favor of a new fix. Technology and social media have been built to serve this pathology through a nasty co-dependent relationship. I, like so many, spend far too much time seeking the next thing; a like, a friend, a thumbs up, an emoji. According to a post on Networlding says ” We’re obsessed with our phones, a new study has found. The heaviest smartphone users click, tap or swipe on their phone 5,427 times a day, according to researcher Dscout. That’s the top 10 percent of phone users, so one would expect it to be excessive. However, the rest of us still touch the addictive things 2,617 times a day on average. No small number.”
Fight or flight becomes swipe or click with the same consequence; we are missing the moments and the world is spinning past us. Can I intentionally become be more present?
I have written before about the importance of breathing and awareness of breath as an important factor in preparing to live in the now. Recognizing that you involuntarily sustain life through the inhalation and expiration of air should be a dotted line to understanding the miracle of your life. When you ‘marine breathe’ – inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds and remain empty for four seconds, your awareness of each tick as it passes is heightened and is a primer to focus.
I use a couple of exercises to help me stay in the moment. I narrow my view. From the cacophony that is our world, I find stillness and silence. There is a place just behind our attitude, feelings, and prejudices where peace precedes the noise and business of the world. It is in your head and in your heart and regardless of your surroundings, it can be discovered. In the moments leading into a new engagement, a personal discussion, or when I am aware that I need to be prepared, I close my eyes and become aware of the sensation of my own physical presence, my body’s weight,(where am I tense in my sit muscles? am I grounded and sitting erect?). I return to my breath and feel it on the inside of my nostrils. Where does it go when I breathe in? Is there a particular part of my body that is uncomfortable or fidgety? I imagine my breath flowing out to the distractions and calming the sea. If I can envelop myself in an internal silence and stillness for as little as two minutes before a difficult meeting, I can use the energy to stay focused for almost an hour.

After a scheduled discussion or difficult coaching session, I leave a five-minute window to recuperate. I turn my intention back on me. I try to pay attention to what m mind is contemplating. Am I blathering? feeling joy? am I exhausted? I try not to get involved in creating a solution, just observe my own mind in action. If I can give myself permission to take these few minutes for my personal well-being, I am a better coach, consultant, husband, father, and grandfather. If I deny myself the break, I will present a much less interested, compassionate and attentive person because I will be in the room but living someplace else.

Make Today Remarkable, by pracicing presencing,
B

Again this is an easy to say and harder to do practice but I guarantee that if you honestly try it for a week, you will make it a constsnt habit.

The Wasted Enterprise of Worry

In the grand scheme of things, I/we tend to worry about stuff that is way outside the span of our control or has already happened and we can’t change history. We do reinvent the past through our faulty memories or a desperate need to reconcile our actions and thoughts but we don’t rewrite it. Worrying is a wasted enterprise in most circumstances yet we can become masters of it. I wonder if worrying begets worrying. If we begin fretting about one thing does it make us more likely to fret about another and a another? Is it possible that we open a floodgate of concern?
I admit that I can be a worry wart if I let my mind go there. Even knowing that the outcome has been decided or I have no influence over the result doesn’t curb the anxiety. If I begin thinking about finances and have concerns about a purchase that I made last week and winder whether it was wise, I am soon wondering about my health or my kids or the state of the world. Full blown, out of control worry ensues and a gale of unnecessary anxiousness begins swirling through my head and I am soon swooning.

I can’t seem to hold the nagging nettles at bay through logic. It doesn’t help to say ” Stop worrying. There isn’t anything you can do about it. Whatever will be, will be.” Rational thought and reasoning doesn’t seem to work. I have tried to blow up the worry with hyperbole. ” What is the absolute worst thing that could happen if …?” ” I blew that chance and I will never get another” ” This headache means I have a tumor”. Intentional exaggeration creates exasperation and rather than showing the ridiculousness of the effort to change the unchangeable it opens a cavern to fall into. I can feel my heart rate rise and my palms get sweaty when I try to trick the worry away.

I have found that breathing through the anxiousness and becoming still and focused on something else lifts the scales and I begin to see reality. I perceive the same circumstances without the edge of concern and fear. I don’t ignore the situation but breathing and meditation brings a softness to the knife edge and the physical and emotional scars don’t get as deep.

My meditation practice is sketchy. When I do it, it is unstable. I fall into a delicious rhythm and then find myself down a rabbit hole of thoughts and need to pull myself out. Breathing in through my nose 1,2,3,4 hold 1,2,3,4, exhale 1,2,3,4 repeat I quell the demon. Listening to the air, feeling it in your nostrils, acknowledging it flow through you arrests the cycle of concern and allows me to catch up and be present, not regretting the past or plotting the future.

Worrying takes my breath away and breathing takes away the worry. I like the symmetry of it.

Make Today Remarkable, by breathing,
B

Past, Present, Future

The past might suck and the future is unknown but we can modify the present simply by being present. We have today and can make the best of each moment.

 

present

 

Henrik Edberg wrote in the Positivity Blog in 2008 ” 7 Awesome Reasons to Be Present, and How to Do It” that greater appreciation and social skills arise from being in the moment (in the conversation).Our creativity and health also improve.

He offers 3 simple steps to practice.

Focus on your breath.

By now, you should be getting really comfortable with breathing exercises and have learned a technique and rhythm that works for you.

Focus on what’s right in front of you.

Or around you. Or on you. Use your senses. Just look at what’s right in front of you right now. Listen to the sounds around you. Feel the fabric of your clothes and focus on how they feel. You can for instance use the summer sun or rain and how it feels on your skin to connect with the present.

Pick up the vibe from present people.

If you know someone that is more present than most people then you can pick his/her vibe of presence (just like you can pick up positivity or enthusiasm from people). If you don’t know someone like that I recommend listening to/watching cds/dvds by Eckhart Tolle like Stillness Speaks or The Flowering of Consciousness. His books work too. But cds/dvds are better than books for picking up someone’s vibe since the biggest part of communication is voice tonality and body language.

Make Today Remarkable, by being present,

B

 

Selling

Are you meeting your customer’s needs and wants, not with the company’s emergency? A great marketing strategy is geared towards creating lasting connections instead of simply being focused on reaching short term targets.

Don’t simply try to sell what’s in stock today. Ask questions, observe and clarify  to understand what customers want today and will want tomorrow and then create the culture needed.

Daniel Pink convinced me that we are selling, To Sell is Human. We are all responding by moving ‘customers’ from one need, one idea, one position to another. In relationships, we are attentive, responsive and adaptive so that the other person’s wants and needs are met today and tomorrow. When we lapse unto self centeredness or selfishness we stop fostering the relationship. If I only ‘sell’ my stuff then the bonds begin to fray.

When influencing someone’s position or discussing our ideas I need to be hearing the other person and understanding what they need from their position and what I can offer to fill the need. If they need security – does my position offer that? If they need stability, what is driving the resistance? If they need recognition, how do I validate and add to their ideas and statements?

There is a simplicity is accepting that selling is human and that when two or more are gathered selling takes place.

Make Today Remarkable, for your customers,

B

The Unexpected Still Happens

Even on my best days I have unexpected challenges and opportunities. Knowing which are which and how to move forward is tricky. In 2008, I made a resolution to stop being a self righteous martyr to lost causes. I haven’t stuck to that very well and can still be blinded by tilting windmills. When my vision isn’t clear, I tend to ‘stick to my guns’ and plow ahead even when the unexpected suggests a different path. There are at least 4 reasons I refuse to detour; ego, lack of knowledge, fear, stubbornness – as I wrote those there are likely many more.

Detour

As of today, I am going to watch for the big Detour Ahead signs and take the turn, just to see where the road takes me. I can always return to the bump in the road and charge the way I was going.

solutions ahead

I am going to be open to the idea that the new route is offering a better way and if I ‘give it a try’, I might find a solution to the problem or a remarkable aspect I hadn’t considered.  I am going to (try) to see detours as opportunities to see something new, learn something else, and as an opportunity to improve.

Make Today Remarkable, by taking a turn,

B

Belief is a Choice

Belief is a choice, like trust and bravery. Trust and belief are choices, once made become invisible. If you make the choice to not believe, it is always the lens you view the world through.

On November 3, 1929, Robert Ripley  drew a panel in his syndicated cartoon saying “Believe It or Not, America has no national anthem. “Despite the widespread belief that “The Star-Spangled Banner”, was the United States national anthem, congress had never officially proclaimed it.  By a law signed on two years later, by President Herbert Hoover, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was adopted as the national anthem of the United States. That was the beginning of Ripley’s real fame.

The 1930s saw Ripley expand his presence into other media. In 1930, he began a fourteen-year run on radio. Ripley recorded live radio shows from underwater, the sky, caves, snake pits, and foreign countries. The next year he hosted the first of a series of two dozen Believe It or Not! theatrical short films. In 1932, Ripley opened his first museum, the Odditorium, in Chicago in 1933. The concept was a success, and at one point there were Odditoriums in San Diego, Dallas, Cleveland, San Francisco, and New York City. By this point in his life, Ripley had been voted the most popular man in America. He asked millions worldwide to believe or not – make a choice.

Choosing to Believe Changes the View. (2)

Once you choose to believe – 2+2=4, Man landed on the moon, Jesus is the risen Lord, your partner loves you … all forms of opportunity presents itself because of the lens you are viewing. Some choices are or we think are empirical like the earth is round and we can use ‘evidence’ to analyse and decide. Some are philosophical like helping the poor is laudable and we opt for the one that fits with existing values. In love emotions can be the measure that tips the believe scale. Loyalty, faith, experience and intuition contribute in varying measure to the choice, depending on the circumstance and occasion.

Regardless of how the choice is made, once made a new viewpoint opens and we see this world with brightness.

This choice, like all our choices can be reversed or altered, for an equal number of combinations of reasons. Today, choose to believe that you are loved (you really are). Fake it if you must. In every situation today make the choice to believe that you are admired, accepted and adored. How does this one choice change your day? How would making a habit of believing change your life?

Make Today Remarkable, by choosing to believe,

B

The Road Less Gravelled

roadI was writing to congratulate a friend about a momentous change they just made in their career and was encouraging him to be excited by the journey. (A lesson I am constantly trying to learn and incorporate). Both of us, like many I know, are destination oriented. As I was typing (pecking really) I misspelled traveled (or spell check did) and it became gravelled. When I reread the sentence it sound more appropriate.

For the true urbanites, the Free Dictionary defines gravelled as; To apply a surface of rock fragments or pebbles or stones to a road. Gravel gives you traction on the road, especially in dangerous or difficult conditions. It allows you to think about something other than the road you are travelling because it keeps you between the  ditches and on the straight and narrow.

Maybe a little less gravel and a little more attention would help us focus on the present; the journey and appreciate how we are getting there rather than just on arriving.

I have a 3000 km drive next week and when I get back to Calgary a headlong rush to complete 4 projects before the end of April.  Maybe the lesson applies to both.

Coaching Can Make You Remarkable

Pioneered and developed by Marilyn Atkinson, PhD, Solution-Focused Coaching is an advanced coaching model that integrates the profession of coaching with a highly developed body of personal growth technologies. Developed over the past 30 years, it provides a comprehensive approach that assists individuals, managers and teams to take action in alignment with their highest individual and corporate vision. Solution Focused personal or business coach, does what a good sports coach, an acting trainer, or a writing teacher does, but with systemic clarity of focus. A Remarkable Coach, will challenge you and help to clarify what you want, and takes the time to find out what winning in life means to you. A Remarkable Coach is a partner in first clarifying your vision and the steps to get there, and then inspiring you to your next level of personal excellence. Through coaching you can discover the life you know as deepest aim; a life of development and accomplishment, both personally and professionally.

A coach will encourage, prompt, provoke and sponsor you towards the ownership of skill-sets that encourage and support your increased creativity, productiveness and effectiveness.

We all face doubts, barriers, personal scripts that slow or even halt our progress. People with high aspirations, move past these ‘gremlins’ through simply partnering with a Remarkable Coach.  Athletes, high achievers, musicians, writers, skilled actors know they get best results with a coach who can help them review aims, set directions, clarify and specify steps.  Their attention can then become relaxed around their ultimate direction towards excellence.  When they commit themselves to work with a personal coach they learn how to focus on their long-range ability sets. A serious performer or serious player in the realm of competitive sports or music would not expect to progress very far without a strong alliance with a good coach.

Contact bob@remarkablepeople.ca for information on a complementary one hour skype coaching session.

Time

Focus

What is the smallest change you can make right now  to improve your productivity? Move your chair closer, adjust your screen, drink some water? Do it? In the back of your mind ask the question again ” What is the smallest thing I can do to improve this situation?” In work, relationships, personal development there is daily room for small improvement. (Don’t I know it).

For me the smallest thing is almost always to focus on the moment. Keep focusing on the task at hand. Finish this sentence, this paragraph, this assignment.  Read deeply. Breathe deeply. Reflect.

My enemy is time – not that I have too little but that I never seem to rest in the moment. I have done all those tests to see if I live in time or through time and am not surprised that my preferred pattern is through time. This makes me on time for everything (because I leave the last discussion, task, place before it is finished (at least in my head)).

I am annoyed by people who are late for meetings with me. I feel they value their time more than mine but they likely are living in the moment and their presence in the last assignment, person or place was so complete that it ran long. I am also annoyed by those people who look over my shoulder in a conversation (I do it all the time) to see who is next to talk to. Those people who check their phone/watch and begin shuffling their notes and books into a neat pile have already moved away from the work, place, me. (I do it all the time)

The smallest thing I can do in every situation is apply focus to the moment (even for just a moment) and then try for another.