Be Present Or Don't Show Up

Have you been in meetings and can tell people are distracted? Or at dinner with the family and all eyeballs are on the cell phone? If so, welcome to the club…

Too many times I walk into meetings and can instantly tell when people aren’t focused or prepared. Yes, we can all see you texting under the table instead of paying attention to the task or client at hand. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of this. No one really knows what’s going on in each others life, but if whatever is distracting you is not an immediate emergency, more often than not it can wait.

As the CEO of my own digital marketing agency, a husband, and a father of two kids, I often get asked: with the digital world moving so fast, juggling clients and all their projects, plus a family, how do you stay present and grounded? Here are four key things I tell them.

Being Present Tips

Practice What You Preach

No one likes the hypocritical boss or manager that yells at people all day, yet doesn’t conduct their behavior by the same principles. Being a leader and mentor at my company, I consider it my job every single day to practice what I preach. For instance, before every single meeting, I set my goals for the meeting and remove everything else from my mind but the task at hand, no matter how crazy the other aspects of my life might be at the moment.

Trust me, this mindset takes a lot of practice and self-discipline, but you will be amazed how much more engaged and productive you are both inside and outside the workplace if you focus all your attention and energy to now, what’s in front of you, and put the hurricane in your head, or on your phone, on pause until a later time.

Create Mutual Respect

We’ve all heard the saying before, “it’s not what you say but how you say it”, right? Well, this concept applies to being present and engaged at work as well. If you see a team member distracted on their phone or notice their mind is clearly in a different place, the key is to be curious, not confrontational.

There is a huge difference between approaching a coworker saying, “Hey, I noticed you seemed a bit distracted during that last meeting. Is everything alright or is there something I can do to help?” Or what not to do is being that person who sends a nasty email saying something like, “Why the f@%$ were you on the phone during that last meeting? What could be more important than budgeting for 2017 marketing initiatives?!” I’ve personally had experiences with the latter, and it just creates a negative relationship and does not accomplish anything.

If your company hasn’t yet tried it yet, conduct meetings that are technology-free. Yep, I’m talking pen, paper, and nothing but human interaction. Lucky for me my entire team loves white boards. However, some meetings definitely require technology, but in my personal experience, I find that myself and my team are more focused and engaged when people are laptop and smartphone free, especially in client meetings. Doing this shows the client that you sincerely care about the topic(s) being discussed and everyone is automatically more engaged without the distractions.

Become Self-Aware

Let’s face it. Distraction and feelings of being overwhelmed and overworked dominate our world today. Many of us spend our time scrutinizing the past or planning our next steps. Reflect on your reactions, what triggers them, your weaknesses, and your strengths. If you know that you’re the kind of person who has an instant reflex to reach for your phone the second you hear it buzz, make a change and leave it at your desk for every meeting you’re involved in or at a minimum turn off the vibrations when in a meeting. That noise the phone makes vibrating on a desk might not be annoying to you, but trust me it is likely distracting to others.

It’s not always easy, but what I strive for every day is mindfulness and self-awareness. Learning to train yourself to be constantly present in whichever moment you are in, can dramatically improve the value and effectiveness of the different aspects of your life. Begin to cultivate the practice of living your life as a human being instead of a human doing. Stop gulping life.

Deliver Value

Being present is the number one value that you can give to your staff, your clients, yourself, and even those in your personal life. Others in your world will sense that you are focused, centered, and listening. Being present is a developed personality trait that reaps a lifetime of dividends. Pay it forward, and share knowledge and training of your newly found skill with your team. Everybody wins!

Most of us would love a checklist of action items to help us improve our health, sleep, relationships, and professions. Even though the various aspects of your life may seem to exist in different worlds, the one tip you need to improve all of the above is to learn to be mindful and present. I would love to hear your thoughts and tips on how you stay grounded in an often-hectic life. Please feel free to leave a comment below or contact me.

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