The Power to Be Present
Three Steps to Mindfulness at Work
One of my favorite books is by Eckhart Tolle and it is called “The Power of Now.” It isn’t a book that one can pick up and read based on a recommendation. In fact, I owned the book for about two years before it made enough sense to me to finish it. I would start to read it, but I didn’t get it. Now, I do. Now I understand the importance of today, the importance of recognizing that today is really all we have. Tomorrow hasn’t been promised to us, and yesterday is behind us. We can’t change it, and we can’t relive it. It is gone.
The understanding of The Power of Now creates a bit of dilemma for a career coach. I work with individuals and companies helping them prepare for their futures. I help them create a skill set that will carry them to the next level. I make a living helping people focus on the power of their own tomorrow; yet I live my life based on the “The Power of Now.” In order to find balance and become a better coach, I had to stop and think about what it means to prepare for tomorrow and still live for today. Here is what I discovered.
First, appreciate. Every moment that you experience in your life, good, bad, and indifferent, is an experience that can teach. Difficult experiences make us stronger so that we may face the next difficulty with an added level of grace. Pleasant experiences teach us that we are worthy of good things. We can find ourselves so focused on the future that we don’t stop and appreciate what is right in front of us.
I remember driving my children to elementary school. Each morning I would I would find myself frustrated in their inability to get ready on time or to wear what I thought they should wear. So many of those morning drives turned into arguments that by the time they got out of the car all three of us were emotionally exhausted.
It wasn’t until much later that I realized I missed what was right in front of me. It was then that I realized that those mornings of riding in the car, that half-hour drive, that time with my kids, to talk to listen, to just “be” – those half-hour drives were in fact a gift, not a chore. I spent years planning on their future, planning on my future, but each day I was missing the present.
Second, prepare, don’t obsess. The best way to prepare for the future is to be present in today. I say that because it is today that the lessons are being taught. As you think about your career tomorrow, recognize what it is about today that is working or that which is not working. Be present at your meetings. Put the phone away. Stop thinking about what you need to do after work. Take the moment you are in and just “be” there. When you do that you will begin to see things that you didn’t notice before.
You will recognize what it is that you like about your environment, you will recognize specifically what you would like to change. You will see strengths in people and you will begin to see areas for improvement in yourself. If you allow yourself to be 100% present, you will begin to see a reality that you have in fact been missing. There is no way to prepare for tomorrow until you learn to understand and really see today.
Finally, accept. Learning to accept today as it is and to appreciate it for all that it means is the most difficult part of growing. But, it is the first step to enlightenment. If you are unemployed, underemployed, or facing some other challenge today accept it. Don’t focus on tomorrow; focus on what is in front of you today. Ask yourself how you have managed to survive this challenge so far. Recognize the strengths that you have and embrace them. Be still, be quiet.
Accept what is. It is only once you accept today and release all of the negative emotion and stresses that you have associated with it, that you will begin to appreciate today. Even the struggles will be appreciated once you accept what is. The very moment that you do that, accept today, is the very moment that tomorrow will begin to unfold for you.
Stop trying to control each fiber of your life. Appreciate where you are, prepare yourself for tomorrow by being present in today, and accept your circumstances as they are. Let go of your plans. Just stop and listen, the answers will find you.