DS Leadership Life Blog: Presence

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The Antidote to Insidiousness: Presence

M lewinski sky at night

There is a word that is used, mostly in medicine, to explain how someone’s injury occurred when there doesn’t seem to be any actual incident. That word is “insidious”. Insidious, by definition, means “proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects”. Yikes! That doesn’t sound good at all. There is no specific time that this “thing” started, and yet, here it is.

I was thinking about this as I looked at the pile of mail that had accumulated over the past two weeks while I was traveling. It resonated again when I considered the new exercise routine I’ve started to lose some body fat that, somehow, just showed up. But it really hit me when one of my team members asked to speak to me about something that was bothering her. To me, this issue just started, but for her it had been months. Alarmed, I thought to myself, has The Curse of Insidiousness insidiously befallen me?

How do these things seem to just magically take over? Hmmm. Or could it really be that the small choices I am making every day are more impactful than I realize? I mean, something must be happening because on Monday I had no papers on my desk and by Friday I had a stack that looked like I owned a mail marketing company.

A dear friend of mine is a pro at making time-lapse videos of the sky and the earth. Naturally, whenever I watch one of his videos, especially if it is a video of a starry night with meteors, I am continually taken aback by how much the earth is rotating. I never notice this (which is probably a good thing) but it does remind me that I can miss things if I am not present. Present? What does that mean? Keep reading.

“It’s easy to forget what’s important, so don’t”-Jack Butler (Michael Keaton) from Mr. Mom

They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – don’t ask me who “they” is, I don’t actually know, but “they” are usually wicked smart. Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly agree. And the only prevention I know for potentially insidious life events, which can range from weight gain to upset employees, is presence. This means being present to what is occurring in and around us. Note that I said “in” and “around” us. That means in my mind, in my body and my external environment.

Being present in my body means a few things; am I hungry? Do I need sleep? Better food? More water? But it also means going beyond just hunger. What physical sensations are occurring? For example, as that team member is talking about the issue that is bothering her, I notice that my jaw is starting to feel tight and there is that familiar aching in my right shoulder. Maybe I’m feeling scared? Or frustrated? Or both?

When I consider what’s happening in my mind, I mean my thoughts. For example, I like to notice if there was a thought or opinion that I didn’t share with someone that may have been valuable to him or her, or a thought that I withheld.

Lastly, we can be present in our external environment and to the people around us. Maybe you notice that the radio seems to be too loud as you’re trying to talk to someone in the car. Or you noticed that one of your business partners seemed to have shut down in the middle of a meeting. We can – and must – be present to those around us.

But how is a mere, overloaded, mortal supposed to keep track of all of these moving parts? No wonder I felt cursed.

The good news is I have developed 5 tricks to support you in this process of remaining present. Ok, they aren’t really tricks so much as questions to ask yourself, but tricks just sounds cooler.

Consider the following:
1. What have I complained about three or more times that I’ve taken no action to address?
2. Did I ask for feedback from one of my team or friends to support my growth?
3. Was there a conversation that I walked away from feeling like I didn’t fully express my feelings or my thoughts?
4. Did I do one thing today that nurtured either my spiritual, emotional, physical or mental well-being?
5. Did I laugh today and appreciate at least one thing or person in my life?

These questions continually bring me back to presence in my day-to-day life and support me in moving past those insidious occurrences. If you like them please, use them!

What tricks do you employ to stay present in your leadership life?

Oh, and I imagine you might like to see Mike Lewinski’s time-lapsed videos from Wilderness Vagabonds. Here is the link: https://vimeo.com/56357885

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