How to Be Present and Win

Posted 07.13.2015

We are all familiar with the phrase, “You must be present to win.” Here’s a story from one of my clients, Jessica, about how that idea can play out in real life.

“I made dinner for my family last week. That usually happens like once a quarter. But I’ve been thinking about and doing things differently lately and decided on the way home from work that I was going to leave my phone in my purse and just be present with my family for three hours. I made a quiche. The great thing about making quiche is you just use whatever is your fridge – the vegetables you weren’t going to use, the leftover breakfast sausage, fresh eggs. You put it all in a pan and bake it. It couldn’t be easier. While the quiche was baking, I goofed around and had fun with my daughter. I use Instagram as a kind of gratitude journal. I post pictures of things I’m grateful for. My quiche was very photogenic so I posted it. It wasn’t just the quiche, though, it was gratitude for dinner with my family and fun with my daughter. I was so grateful to stop and take time to appreciate the goodness in my life.”

Jessica is one of around 30 participants in a Developing Leadership Presence program I’m doing for rising leaders at a well known Fortune 500 company. Like a lot of professionals, she’s working in an environment of constant change that can quickly consume all of a person’s time, attention and energy. Jessica shared her quiche story during a check-in video conference we had for the participants. They’ve all been working on practical ways to build their leadership presence. Almost all of them have also been working on being more present.

To help with that goal, all of the leaders have created a Life GPS® to get clear about how they are at their best, the routines that reinforce that and the outcomes that should result from showing up at their best. Those outcomes aren’t just at work; they’re at home and in the community too. When I asked everyone on the video conference to talk about what difference their Life GPS was making for them, what I heard about was making the choice to be present.

Jessica made a choice that evening to unplug and spend quality time with the people she loves most. Michelle talked about the dance parties she’s been having with her pre-schooler in the early evenings. Susan talked about the choice she’s made to spend her first 10 minutes after waking up each morning with her bare feet in the grass. She’s found that doing that literally and figuratively grounds her. She used to start her day worrying about what was happening at work. Now she starts it by feeling grateful for the beauty of nature and the other good things in her life.

When I asked the group what kind of impact these personal choices were having on their work, just about everyone had a story about that too. James, one of the guys in the group said he’s realizing that if he holds on to what he needs to do for himself to show up at his best, it helps his team. Another guy, Josh, said that the routines he’s outlined in his Life GPS are “the only thing that’s keeping me in the game. The difference for me is I can bring joy to the room at work rather than anxiety. That makes me feel like we’ve got a shot.” Many of the leaders said they’re sharing the Life GPS® with their team to show that they care about how the people they work with feel.

Stories like that are overwhelming – in the best possible way – for me to hear. I’d love to hear your story. If you’ve read Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative and have been using the Life GPS®, let me know what difference it’s making for you. If you’ve been thinking about using it or want some guidance with it, consider downloading a copy of the Life GPS® Personal Planner. No matter how you proceed, remember that you can make the choice to be present this week and win.