A lot of people talk about being present these days. Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” first made that concept real for me a number of years ago. I remember thinking to myself that this idea of blocking out external distractions and focusing on the energy of the moment was very similar to what an artist, in the traditional sense, does while in the currents of creative energy. I cannot begin to count the number of times I have lost myself in the flow of illustrating or painting. Heck, even mowing the lawn or building a closet organization system can easily sublime from mechanical activity into flow. This is the essence of presence. We just don’t recognize it as such because it generally does not include other people. These days, the discussions into which we introduce the concept of presence revolving around being present for others so that we may serve them authentically and in the way they need us most.
Here is the trap in these discussions: much emphasis is placed on presence directed towards others but not enough is placed on presence directed towards the self. We focus on Step 2 but leave out Step 1. Let me explain what I mean.
A very wise friend (hint: it was Jeff) once told me, “You cannot do for others what you are not prepared to do for yourself.” Great observation. It’s essentially a re-write of the old adage that you cannot love others until you love yourself. In order to be present for others, we must learn to be present for ourselves. We must learn introspection before we can be prepared to authentically engage in “extrospection” for others. Not a real word, by the way, but you get my drift: look inside before you look outside. Jeff’s reminder to me and to others is to take the time to take care of yourself so that you will be refreshed and in the proper state of mind to even begin to think of taking care of others. This works on many levels and in just about every circumstance.
Relax. Breathe. Listen to yourself. Allow the quiet and the focus on yourself to nurture your own growth and development. Being present for others is essential to service and to leadership. It is much easier to do when you have created the quiet, sacred space inside of yourself from which your purpose can flow…