Meeting the commitments we make to our families or companies is tough enough, but the real challenge is being present in the moment and focused on what’s occurring.
When my son was a toddler and wanted my attention he would walk over to me, reach up, place a little hand on each side of my face, and turn my head so I was looking directly at him. He’d look directly at me while nodding his head to emphasize each word and say, “I talking to you Mommy.” He knew how to get my attention when I was distracted – usually thinking about something from work.
I’d like to say that was all it took to bring me back and keep me in the moment. What I would give now to relive those precious moments, and take back the time I squandered thinking about one thing while trying to do another.
It’s even tougher today with the use of our personal electronic devices. It’s become acceptable for someone to respond to a text while they’re in the middle of a conversation. It’s disconcerting enough when we’re the speaker when this occurs and realize the person has no idea what we just said. It borders on cheap entertainment when they are the speaker and pauses to return a text, then looks up having clearly lost track of what they were talking about in the first place.
I can remember the first time it struck me how few of us are actually present and engaged in what we’re doing. I was working with a new client and had been asked to attend the weekly executive meeting.
The CEO opened the meeting by reviewing upcoming commitments and inviting each team member to provide a brief update on significant events in his department. As each executive provided an update, I observed the behavior of the rest of the team. It didn’t take long to notice that after a team member provided his update he tuned out and begin texting or responding to EMAIL. As a result most of the team was tuned out and missed information that could affect their departments and the company as a whole.
I wonder how much more effective we could be and how much less regret we might have if we worked harder on being present in the moment.
Leah Ward-Lee is a management consultant and business writer based in Dallas, Texas and the author of $1,000 Start-Ups. Her next book, The Executive’s Toolbox, will be released in 2017.