“May you learn to cultivate the art of presence
In order to engage with those who meet you.”
– John O’Donohue, from his “Blessing for a Leader”
In today’s morsel of Wisdom for Work, my colleagues Andy Crissinger and Chrystal Bell talk about the importance of cultivating lasting practices that link to your values and how these ordinary rituals can support you. Ultimately, they assert, you become what you practice. All of us can find and develop ways to support us in being our best adult selves.
Beyond the latest app or spiritual gadget promising change, what are the practices that you turn towards to gain reflection that matter to you? What are the practices that support you in your life, and as a leader? How do you come to know yourself better? How does this practice connect to your values? How does it impact your day?
Staying relational means being able to not only stay present but also to take care of what’s happening on your side of the aisle in any encounter. The practices below and mentioned in this episode, as examples, can be handy tools using what you’ve got with you all the time, at zero cost: you and your awareness!
Get fluent with a Personal Check-in. Red-Yellow-Green is one tool we use personally and in groups, like our meetings here at Reboot. It’s a quick way to pause and note where you are in your regulation. Another way to stop and look at what’s troubling you, and inquire deeper into what’s happening for you is to note what’s happening in your body, what sensations are there, what emotions are present, and what those remind you of. More on this simple framework here.
Use your Breath as a gauge and a reset. Checking in with your breath is a practice that allows you to notice if you’re holding your breath so you can inquire about what is happening for you. And, it’s also a great practice to use day in day out, as you move through the flow of your moments. When can you stop and breathe? How does that practice bring you back to center, into presence? Try this Three Breaths Practice.
Try a Meditation that works for you. Meditation comes in all forms. The most potent part of meditation is your awareness. Can you see when you are present? Can you be with your thoughts? Can you see how they make you not present? Whether you have a sitting practice or a T.M. practice or follow a guided meditation, if it works for you that’s what matters. Meditation is not an excuse for you to be harsh on yourself — it’s a place for you to experience yourself more fully and begin to hear your own clear voice. For some guided meditations, Chrystal mentions the Three Dimensions meditation in this episode. She also has a lovely Mountain Meditation for finding ground. For other meditations to help manage uncertainty, check out our free 30-day Finding Ground course.
Establish a Journaling Practice. There are many benefits to journaling, especially for leaders. It’s an opportunity to work with our present self, discover our old self, and dialogue with our future self. We track our dreams and the future that’s calling us into it. We excavate our hearts and say what we need to say as our first fidelity. The practice hones us and allows us to find, hear, and spend time with our true voice, that part of us that has been there all along that knows better than all the other parts of us do. As you trod along the path of life that is yours, it’s this voice that you need to navigate in integrity.
Track your level of Presence. How present you are able to be over the course of a conversation determines how well you’ll be able to be relational, versus purely transactional. Learning where you are on the openness to learning scale, and using this as a tool in your day-to-day, can help you begin to track when you’re in and out of presence.
In their first of a two-post series called “What’s Your Practice?,” my colleagues Jim Marsden and Ray Foote invite you to consider what it is that supports your artistry. They ask:
Lasting change takes time and reps. The more we do these practices when we’re centered, the easier it will be for us to reach for these tools when we’re under duress. This is a great act toward our own well-being, and our responsibility to show up for our relational life. As a leader, that is an art.
As Rick Rubin reminds us in his new book The Creative Act: A Way of Being (highly recommended by Team Reboot): “Good habits create good art. The way we do anything is the way we do everything. Treat each choice you make, each action you take, each word you speak with skillful care. The goal is to live your life in the service of art.”