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FULL OF PRESENCE

This is about being present, even amidst busy schedules and distractions.

You may think of a time recently when you felt present. A time where you felt fully in that given moment, with all of your senses attuned to your environment, fully focused on what was right there. You weren’t considering what was coming next or thinking about the past, you were there - in that moment - fully. 

You may also think of a time when you’ve been in the company of someone who was fully present. You likely felt like the centre of their world in that moment - felt seen, heard and valued by them. 

Being present benefits your health, vitality and energy. There are also performance benefits like better focus, a better ability to distil key information and make better decisions. You’ll also find relationship benefits with improved listening and deeper connection capabilities. 

Being present heightens awareness of your own needs and also of your surroundings. Being present certainly shifts how you experience the world and allows you to experience it with openness and depth.

As Tara Brach says, “presence is not some exotic state that we need to search for our manufacture. In the simplest terms, it is the felt sense of wakefulness, openness, and tenderness that arises when we are fully here and now with our experience.” 

Presence is like a light switch in that you can actively switch it on. And like a light switch, it’s connected to a source of power. While a light may not require a lot of energy, if it’s disconnected from its source, or gets interrupted, the action of flicking the switch on won’t cause the light to turn on.

That’s about as far as this metaphor can go. Because usually after you switch on a light, it will stay on until you switch it off. Presence is not like that. Our minds wander. We get distracted! 

A big part of being present is in the consistent process of starting again when you become aware that you are no longer present.

Most simply this section will help you to gain clarity on what distracts you and to be intentional. To help you mitigate the activities that get in your way from bringing your best. More than that, you’ll be encouraged to take meaningful steps to set up sustainable practices that will help you get better at stepping into the present moment and experiencing the benefits of doing so in your daily life.

Notice the difference in how you scored in this section and the “full of calm” spectrum. In this assessment, they both sit along the axis of “being state”, but differ in key ways

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Where full of presence is in the energy quadrant and focused on health/vitality and setting up healthy boundaries, full of calm is in the peace quadrant and is focused on emotional management and the acceptance of our reality and whatever the universe throws at us. Both provide tips and tools for mindfulness. Welcome to review both of them and see what resonates most.

Please read on to get more insight into your results – both for this spectrum and also for your environment. Gain an understanding of what it can feel like in each of the zones of survival, coasting and thriving. Then select from the reflective exercises, key questions and actions provided that resonate with you and may help you to move forward. Be sure to read through to the end where you’ll find some tips - or things thriving people do - for inspiration and some additional resources for further reading. Please note that any external links to supplementary resources are for your learning purposes and are not affiliated links that benefit me personally.

 

If more individualized feedback would be helpful as you map out the most effective next steps, you're welcome to book a deep dive coaching call. 

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SURVIVAL ZONE: Distracted

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Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV:

What it feels like:

At times, feeling distracted can feel similar to feeling anxious - mind racing, constantly on alert and highly reactive to things coming at you. But feelings brought from distraction can also feel quite good, albeit short-lived. And that’s why this zone can be a particularly vicious cycle. 

Distractions can be good - they help break things up. Make you feel good in a long work day, but they can also bring misaligned short-lived good feelings, especially if your distractions are habits that get in the way of you being present at all, and help you to avoid looking at your reality in the face. 

As Jud Brewer shares in this HBR article:

 

“Distraction is the modern day equivalent of avoiding the dangerous or unknown in ancient times.”  

There are many different kinds of distractions: 

  • External distractions - buzzing notifications, a dog barking; internal distractions

  • Physical ones - pain in your body

  • Mental distractions - ruminating on something that happened earlier or worrying about something that’s coming up.

 

It can feel easy to blame our external environment for our distractions. There is certainly evidence for it (think The Social Dilemma). Interestingly, though, research has shown that when external interruptions decrease, internal interruptions increase.

Read on and think deeply about patterns and habits you have around distractions and consider how they are holding you back.

Reflective Exercises / Questions to Consider:
1. Start to notice in your day-to-day life what distracts you.
  • External

    • Direct interruptions - an incoming call, an urgent request

    • Indirect interruptions - a loud noise, an app notification

  • Internal 

    • Derailed focus - sending emails in a meeting, checking Social Media when it would be beneficial to be doing something else

    • Monkey Brain - jumping from thought to thought, managing multiple tasks at one time, scrolling on social media

How to move forward:
1. Stop multitasking

This is a great article to dig into and get clear on the multiple ways you may be juggling tasks.

 

  • Multitasking (attempting to do two or more tasks simultaneously)

  • Context switching (switching back and forth between tasks)

  • Attention residue (performing a number of tasks in rapid succession)

 

Being a master of any of these skills is a way of embracing distractions. If you want to be more present, you’re likely going to have to unlearn some deep habits you have developed.

2. Cut out preventable distractions

These include anything that derails your ability to be present. Try to silence notifications. Turn off messaging apps etc when you want to be intentionally present.  

 

3. Try Meditation.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider an app like insight timer or calm. Welcome to read my reflection and some of my learnings on my journey to embrace meditation. The important thing at this stage is to take action and try it. Don’t worry about finding the ‘right’ one - just try one. Meditation will help you to focus as well as help you to stay focused and not get hooked on distractions as they arise.

Environment Check

This is just talking about being present at work .... are there any home or personal checks?

While building strategies to optimize yourself personally is important, it’s also critical to reflect on whether you have the conditions you need through the people around you and the environment you operate in.

 

In many corporate cultures, meetings are multi-task/distraction central. Showing up and being fully present at a meeting where no one else is may feel strange - and even leave you with an inbox full of work if you have back-to-back meetings.  

So it’s worth it to think about - how can you build a better meeting culture at work?

Co-creating operating agreements in your team is one powerful way to make your meetings more effective. This is about aligning together as a team on how you best work together.

 

Consider how each team member prefers to contribute and how each of you do your best work. See below for inspiration to get you started.  Hold a brainstorming session where ideas are shared and decided upon.

In a meeting, consider behaviors that would help make meetings more effective.

Then create a list, agree on it and test it out. Of course, revisit how you’re doing as a team at following and enforcing the agreements. Modify and add to the list as you learn and/or as team members change.  Examples of meeting operating agreements:

  • Send meeting agenda’s at least 24 hours before a meeting

  • Provide at least 24 hours after a meeting for any additional input to be added/submitted in a written format

  • Start and finish on time

  • No talking over each other. If it occurs, interrupt interrupters

  • Share the air-time. If someone is disproportionately speaking (by speaking a lot or not at all) point it out.

  • Intentionally seek out different/dissenting views from the group

  • Discuss how you should respond if people are not able (for whatever reason) to be present in a meeting. Should you take a break? End the meeting? Have that individual get some “air”?

Being able to be honest about our own state sets a bar that your meetings are designed to be productive and where distracted behaviors won’t be sustainable.

COASTING ZONE:

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Photo by Ivan Samkov

What it feels like:

Reflective Exercises / Questions to Consider:

In the coasting zone, you experience some of the benefits of being present, but there is space to focus intentionally on bringing presence as a state of being to the forefront of how you live your life.

Reflect on your day yesterday. How much, in %, would you say you were:

  • Focused in the past: Reflecting on things that have already happened - introspection, rumination, nostalgia, etc.

  • In the present moment

  • Focused on the future: Thinking about what’s coming - plans, goals, hopes, worries, predictions, expectations

“The past is nothing more than all present moments that have gone by. The future is just a collection of all present moments waiting to happen. Hence, living in any moment other than the present is useless — even if your current task is oriented towards the future.” - Eckhart Tolle

How to move forward:
1. Ongoingly manage energy.

"Start again" and keep on starting again. It's a choice to be here now. Don't dwell on messing up just choose to start again.

2. Make small moments count. 

Fully open all your senses to anchor in to the moment Bring your focus to the present moment even during the most basic activities:

 

Take any routine that normally is only a means to an end and give it your full attention, so that it becomes an end in itself. For example, every time you walk up and down the stairs in your house or place of work, pay close attention to every step, every movement, even your breathing. Be totally present.

3. Reclaim your calendar.

There are some great tips in this article by Nir Eyal on how to reclaim your calendar.

One thing to consider here is to build in breaks. Leave them as open time and fill the time with what you feel is needed at that moment - maybe it’s a nap, a walk, or some quick exercise. Thinking you don’t need breaks will set you up for failure. Being over-prescriptive on exactly what you should do during those breaks is also not productive. Instead, tune in to what you need at that moment, and give yourself the space and permission to give yourself that.

 

Breaks are just as important as focused time. Your unconscious mind will still be making connections for you after you clear your cache and check out for some time. Go for a walk or find a good distraction. ​

THRIVING ZONE: FULL OF PRESENCE

What it feels like:

???????

Things thriving people do:
1. Make people seen heard and valued
2. Don’t multitask
3. Welcome silence
With that said, they don’t require it as a prerequisite to be present
Further reading for inspiration around this topic:
  1. Hack Back Distractions with Tactics from This Behavioral Designer | First Round Review

  2. Meditation: Resting in a Sea of Presence (20:49 min.) - Tara Brach

  3. Be Here Now: Dass, Ram

  4. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment: Tolle, Eckhart

  5. Wherever You Go There You Are: Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jon Kabat-Zinn,

  6. You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment: Hanh, Thich Nhat, McLeod, Melvin, Kohn, Sherab Chödzin: Books

Deep transformational work can happen fast - Get started.

What is the investment?​

It's $995 USD

All major credit cards are accepted. ​

Guarantee. You have a full money-back guarantee if, for whatever reason, you are not satisfied.