Shoulders facing toward you.
Steady eye contact.
Absence of fidgeting.
This is how people who are fully present behave when you have a conversation with them.
How often does this happen?
Unfortunately for most people–rarely. Too often our conversations consist of “half listening” as we glance over our shoulder to check a blind spot before we change lanes. Or being half heard as the person we are trying to talk to “multi-tasks” by doing the dishes and shouting out orders to the kids as we are explaining a difficult situation at work. Or maybe we’re sitting across from a friend in a coffee shop but we feel insecure about continuing to share because we see her eyes darting every time someone comes through the door, notice her glancing at her watch, and see her knee bouncing with nervous energy.
Now I’m not saying there aren’t times and types of conversations where talking on the phone or “layering” tasks isn’t fully appropriate. (One of my favorite layering techniques is walking and talking with friends–it energizes my body and soul.)
But many times, we really want to have other people’s full attention, and they desire the same gift from us. This desire to be heard, to be listened to, to be made the most important priority (that no cell phone call can interrupt) is especially high when we have something close to our hearts to share: hurts, fears, thoughts, dreams, or uncertainties.
One of my gifts to my family members this season is that of my full presence
over these five days. That means no checking work e-mail, no trying to fit in a project, no answering work-related messages. Instead, I’m fully present with them in mind, spirit, and heart, as well as body.
Are you offering your friends and family this gift as you celebrate holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah, or New Year’s? Are you really present or are you just worried about buying and wrapping presents?
One of the reasons I am extremely passionate about time strategies to create a brilliant life in a burnt-out world is that having your schedule under control gives you the ability to be fully present. When you’re disorganized and unsure of whether you have time to get everything done you need to accomplish, your mind is consumed with what you need to do 24/7–even as you’re opening presents! But when you know what you need to do, have planned the time to do it, and have the proper reminders in place, you can mentally, as well as physically, check out of the office and be fully present in your personal life. The same is true for checking out of your personal life when you need to be working—if you have all of the lists and reminders and plans in place to cook dinner, plan a trip, or pick up kids, you won’t need to be distracted by those thoughts while you’re supposed to be focusing on a project.
With everyone in my life, my desire is to be fully present. So when I’m with my family–like in our traditional Christmas Eve visit to Marshall Field’s Walnut Room pictured above–I’m there. Enjoying the ambiance and the laughter.
Then when I’m working with coaching clients–I’m there. Listening to them and reflecting on what they’ve said.
Then when I’m doing speaking or training–I’m there. Putting all of my energy and effort toward engaging and educating each individual.
If you’re not “fully there” on a regular basis, I encourage you to think about how you can start to give everyone and everything in your life your full presence in 2009. And if you’re struggling to do this on your own, I’m here to help. You don’t need to conquer your challenges alone.
To Christmas presence and peace!
Coach. Trainer. Speaker.
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