Being Present

11. Being More Present

She was a senior manager with global responsibility that had built a successful team that was favorably commented on the 360 by peers and superiors. On the improvement note, the feedback read ‘be more present during the meetings’.

– What they mean by being ‘more present’ at meetings?

“You know, I admit it is true. Sometimes I am distracted with a thousand other things and miss some important information that is being shared. When later on I ask for the same information, I am greeted with these funny looks”.

– Is this only happening during the meetings at work?

“To be honest, it also happens at home. My spouse often complains, “You are not here. You are not listening”. That is true too, while I am present there in the body – my mind is not there. And that hurts, because my family is dearly important to me. I do really care.”

“The reporting dilemma at work that we talked about has been frustrating me. I first need to clear this up then I will be more present at home”.

– Have you been fully present in this meeting with me?

“Yes. Yes, I have been fully present”.

– So, what does that say?

“I don’t understand. What do you mean?”

– You did not need to fix anything in order to be fully present in this meeting, right? The reporting dilemma still exits and yet you are being fully present with me – why then create a pre-condition for being more present at home/work?

“Hum. I see. My perception that something need to happen first may be faulty.”

– While you are waiting to solve the reporting dilemma at work (mind you that may take months), what are you practicing at home/work?

“Well. If I habitually put preconditions on being more present – then I will be practicing not being present. What I practice, I get better at, right? So, I get better at not listening and remaining distracted”.

When the mind habitually manufactures excuses and preconditions, it guarantees the survival, the prolongation of old habits indefinitely in to the future. It makes attentiveness and being present secondary to another condition – namely fixing that and that and that and that first!– a clever strategy to continue with the same. This way it can put it off forever.

Thoughts and images are like baits and we are like fish. When not self-aware we easily get caught and are carried away by one thought after another. We are then only 50% present – the body is there but the mind and feelings “no-where”. I have become a robot on auto-pilot. I eat, but do not taste. I listen, but do not hear. I am surrounded with people, but feel isolated and lonely. A heavy price to pay, yet I delightfully remain unaware.