What work, meetings, and people are important enough to you for you to be fully present? Can you be on the phone, in a meeting or conversation and experience yourself as really there with the other person(s)? Do you notice how easily insights spring from that kind of presence? Does that kind of listening create deeper understanding and ability to move the dialogue more fluidly? In other words, how good are you willing to have each interaction be?
If you are stumbling in your answers, don’t feel alone. I believe that one of the biggest issues in our current work and life mode is that we are multi-tasking-thinking ourselves right out of our experience of the moment. We aren’t skilled or practiced at slowing down or pre-paving our work with clear intention. No one taught us to do so. Rather, we usually receive great accolades for doing more in less time, wearing our multi-tasking-thinking as a badge–so much so that even our children often don’t expect us to listen to them. Why are we in such a rush? What is so important?
Now I’m not saying that we don’t have lots to do and that we shouldn’t be efficient. What I suggest is that, at least for important things (you pick them), our impact can be far greater if we use our time consciously.
Try this! Take 30 seconds right now and close your eyes or stare at the wall and breathe deeply. Jot down all the things you are thinking about simultaneously onto a piece of paper as if you are depositing them for safe-keeping. Then bring yourself back to the work that you were doing before you read this entry or the work coming up in the next minutes. Experience your ability to stay present to what is in front of you. The next time your direct report or child asks a question, put down what you are working on, take a breath, and BE with that conversation. Then, let me know what you find.