Unwrap Your Presence
Written by David Pullan
It’s January 3rd, the first day back at work and, if you’re anything like me, the first day when you are conscious that the day has a specific name and doesn’t commence with a breakfast of panettone and a quick scour of the internet for left over sprout and stuffing recipes.
McKechnie and I are starting 2017 by working on a client project regarding leadership presence.
As soon as you start thinking about this subject the mind is automatically drawn to concepts such as charisma, active listening and performance energy. Yet an annual lunch I had with two great friends before Christmas got me thinking about presence on a much more fundamental level.
Before this festive bun fight descended into fine cigars and even finer single malt we managed to cover a lot of ground regarding the previous year and hopes for the one to come.
One of our number asked what we thought would be the major trends in 2017.
The third answered, ‘This will be the year of the mind. The year when the great leaders are present and reflective.’
He then went on to tell us about a free app called Insight Timer which combines guided meditations and a self timer and has challenged people to complete 365 days of meditation in 2017.
Now don’t panic.
When I say meditation I merely mean being fully present and mindful of your current experience. That could be two minutes of consciously appreciating your dog as you walk it in the morning, or it could be two hours of full on Om Mani Padme Hum sat atop a mountain. All that matters is that you make the meditation a habit and that you seek to be non-judgemental regarding your experience.
The theory is that any leader who learns to listen to themselves is going to operate with a much more compassionate level of power, presence and warmth. And I think that we can all agree that 2017 is crying out for that.
In short this is where I think the concept of presence has to start; the ability to be present with yourself.
I have committed to the 365 day challenge and I’ll report back occasionally on how it is going. But let me asure you, this isn’t an instant enlightenment hippy trip.
My morning session goes something like this.
I set the timer for ten minutes, sit comfortably, close my eyes, consciously relax and then follow my breath as it travels in and out. Then this happens in my mind.
‘Why is the radiator banging so much? I’d better bleed them before I go out. It’s going to be the coldest January on record. And I bet that Stilton doesn’t have much time left on the clock. Must use it for soup with the sad sticks of celery in the fridge. But I’ve put on so much weight!!! That’s it…I’m on a diet from now. And I’ll run a 5k by April. And…and…and…’
And suddenly I realise what is happening and I come back to the breath for a while until the voices start again. And that is fine. It’s all part of the process. No need to judge.
The key is that you spot the internal jabber and wonder, ‘Who is doing the talking?’ and ‘Who is listening?’ Then you come back to the breath.
I’ve only been going a few days but already the periods of calm are increasing during the meditation and the quality of presence in my daily tasks feels much enhanced.
So my recommendation for this first day back at work is to build some mindfulness into your day as the cornerstone of your presence. Meditate. Really notice your footfall as you run. Think about every bite of food. Taste the wine. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do it.
Spend a couple of weeks making this a habit and I’ll be back with more on how to unwrap your presence.
Happy New Year.
photo credit: Snapshooter46 <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/45475783@N07/31067052024">;Christmas present - a patchwork quilt</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>