Creative Tension – Part 5A of 7

What is Calling for Your Attention?

~ Give to Grow ~

The rhythm of your strengths is an operating model for the power of your presence. In such rhythm is how you give your gift in this world.

The gifts of the moment, when consciously received, give far into the future.

Your genius is in how you live the rhythm of your strengths–your guiding spirit. Jennifer and I chose to write this series on Gather-Give-Grow because of how this energy universally represents the resonance of Trueness. We don’t just write to you because you are a leader on paper, a position entitled by a box on an organizational chart. We write to you to encourage the leader within.

As Jennifer tells us, our growth and development may take many experiential forms, but we grow best when we consciously apply our Trueness. Such application is not a selfish preference, forcibly projected at others. Rather, it is a selfless method focusing you fully in the moment and on those who presently need you at your best, as you walk your path of genius.

What is calling for your attention?

This is a question of presence.

In a recent conversation, Jennifer summarized simply what I heard as her passionate commitment to herself and to you: Authentic Leadership. Unquestionable evidence of your authentic growth is how you’ve helped another grow. As our colleague, Ric Gonzalez, says, true giving is done without attachment: “This is true generosity. Practicing it is a skill, and it it takes a whole lot of work.”

Further, Ric says that detaching from outcomes frees our giving for actual impact of the gift given. And the most precious gift, and form of giving, I can receive from you, my leader, is your presence.

Your desire and your intent, when joined in leading from Trueness, induce creative tension. It is this intersection and tense union that Jennifer and I write about in this series, and we do so to encourage you.

The desire that drives you as a leader will join with intent that draws you forward. The spirit of this union encourages your Trueness through creative tension–suffering the attachment to desire and the detachment required by the reality of intent.

In trusting your Trueness, and holding creative tension until it teaches you in the present, you free your strengths into a large territory, calling ever more deeply on your genius.

A Leadership Poem: Present Value



The Work of Trueness – Presence

Jennifer is a valued colleague of mine and a contributing participant in this Work of Trueness. The spirit of connection is powerful. A mutual friend (Ric, who introduced me to Jennifer) recently asked when I had last seen her. I had to remind him that she and I had never met face-to-face.

In the case of the relationship and interactions Jennifer and I share, the spirit of presence is validated. While I look forward to an inevitable and desired face-to-face meeting, I treasure the realness in our virtual camaraderie.

You see, presence is more than physical. Physicality is a valued element in relationship. Take for instance Ric, about whom I write and who has written his flowing words for my blog. I greatly value the face-to-face time I get with him because we live over 700 miles apart. But our relationship began virtually and continued for quite some time before we ever met face-to-face. And here’s the cool part, I don’t even remember when that was!

Your Trueness is the impact of your presence.

Your impact as a leader has its only shot through your authentic self. Trueness practiced is active impact. And we are the beneficiaries of this impact in your presence. And your Presence stands on the solid base of who you are−regardless of the miles between us.


Know Thyself – Presence in the 21st Century

Please do not wait for all to fall into some preordered comfortable arrangement, some sweet package making it easy to be present, as this is not the path to know true presence.

True presence, as an act of being with, is a gift to the other person. Do not underestimate the impact of this life-sustaining sharing of authentic energy. In the self-inflicted stress of distraction we cheat ourselves out of the wonderful blessing in an unexpected moment. In an interview I watched, I heard Drew Barrymore say, “Expectation is the mother of deformity.”

How tragically precise we can be at creating well-intended, misguided expectations that ultimately limit us in actually holding what might really be possible.

I am reminded of what so often bothered me through the years about “retreats” focused on some hot method to supposedly help us create some magical vision that all would readily understand and implement accordingly back in the workplace. We would compose some cryptic statement incapable of generating even one spark while expecting a raging inferno of results in the troops.

Do not, please, translate any such corporate exercise into your individual, purposeful presence.

Purpose is not out there someday when−not for you! Purpose is Now, in this moment with you, in your true presence.

Know thyself in a flowing constancy−and we will know encouraging power in your presence.

A Soul Dance with Presence

Life is not a mindless reality show with a panel of recognized and unrecognized names judging our dance steps. It oft feels this way, but it is not true.

Our soul dance is graceful expression only as we move in self-assured flow.

Such confident movement is the face of a voice-infused presence.

In terms of personality and preference, Judy is high in strength where I am low and I am high in strength where she is low. This is just one reason our mutual coaching relationship works well. In light of the coaching she gives me I can easily point to a main contributing factor; her ability to be present.

Judy’s dedication to presence with those she coaches is no surprise when I consider her voice of Integrity−a commitment to a robust balance of all the right ingredients. I not only see her confident movement in the coaching process, I feel its impact as she pushes me when needed and holds back when I must hold the thinking for myself. This skill is not exercised by the selfish−those dancing for the unqualified judge.

The glittering object of desire is often seen as the answer to all present difficulties. … It is a want that may actually be a way of stopping real things from happening. −David Whyte, The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationships

Judy’s soul dance is artfully focused on her purpose to coach others in situations of importance. Her desire is firmly situated in the present, grounded by a purpose allowed to freely serve another in the present.

How privileged I am to be served by her focused presence.

Release Presence into Skill 5

Listening is the commitment allowing providence to move in the information shared between two individuals. Listening sharpens my awareness of the encounters while wading. Listening opens doors.
−Wading the Stream of Awareness
(Presence Chapter)

In listening free from judgment, you respectfully open genuine love for the authenticity of the individual. Happiness is for the present and for those with presence.

My grandmother was my best friend in my important, developing years. She listened−truly listened. She heard me in what I said to her when we had our wonderful talks. In my final years at the university, I was not far from her home. On many weekends I would drive through the small county towns to get to her house. She would cook for me delicious meals and complain that she could no longer cook well.

Commitment to your own voice and purpose opens the door for providence to bring your past and future together in the present. (Presence Chapter)

In the presence of my grandmother I was happy. I was simply and plainly just happy. She was a giver. There were no conditions. If you had a need, then she gave. In those years at the university I had a need to talk; to be heard. She gave, and gave lavishly, by listening.

It is experiences like those with my grandmother that I bring into my presence. They are treasures. And bounty such as this assures me in my future−a future that is not someday, but now.

My own voice of love, and purpose of encouragement, were so providentially influenced by my grandmother. For this I am eternally thankful … and I anxiously await the status of grandparent!

See sister post, Letting Go into Presence

Release A New Confidence into Skill 3

In the post about Impact and Skill 1, I wrote about Leslie. She and I have in common the spiritual gift of encouragement. We have each learned how exercising our gift places us square in the present.

The 21st Century leader is modeling for us a new confidence; a presence that is both selfless and powerful. Focusing her leadership in the present … ensures that we put our attention to the right priorities; thus building fulfillment in our present work and assuring the rewards of tomorrow. −Wading the Stream of Awareness (A New Confidence Chapter)

Leslie’s acts of encouragement are in the moment and become an engaging message about tomorrow−about what ought to be. The clarity of a message is a gift−a connection point found only in the present as we gather in the clarity. When a leader is truly clear, a collective future vision begins to become more individually organized in the present.

No vision is collectively good until we individually engage and connect. And we cannot achieve any vision without holding its story in the balance of the present; together. As with Leslie, leadership challenges us to find a confident stance in that delicate, tight space of understanding. If I cannot stand there as a leader, how can I expect others to stand with me and hold the tension of our future.

Any story worth our collective attention pulls us into the present as it flows from clarity to engagement to connection. It is leaders like Leslie who understand the importance of consistent messaging to keep us on an unfolding path as we live the story.

See sister post, Letting Go into A New Confidence

Service with a Purpose (Reflecting on Presence)

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