It is funny how the old expression “when the student is ready the teacher will appear” seems to always prove itself true time and time again. I posted a really interesting item from Deepak Chopra a week or so back titled “A Leader Must Look and Listen”. In that post, Mr. Chopra proposed that we must listen with more than our ears. He suggests a four step model which utilizes our senses, our mind, our heart and our soul. I think we could simplify this to being truly present while listening.
I got a personal reminder of this in the week following reading this impactful article. A colleague of mine is on his own Essential Journey and we often discuss the fundamentals of this model together. Earlier this week, however, we were locked in a tactical business discussion and both of us found me in a highly prescriptive mood which had me telling my colleague exactly what I thought he should be doing on a couple of situations we were dealing with.
I got what I deserved … a person that I respect that wasn’t too receptive to my approach and someone more anxious to break the connection than continue.
And this made me think about why sometimes I can show up with Mr. Chopra’s four faculties turned on and a response mechanism based in questions and possibilities in action, and the next time I just “tell it like I want it to be” without stopping to think about my impact on others.
Why does that happen? I’m the same guy every hour of every day aren’t I?
Well I guess I’m discovering that the answer to that question is both yes and no. Yes I’m the same guy with the same potential and gifts to give. And yet no, I don’t always show up with those gifts in the forefront. And I know why, at least for me. I have to be present and essentially quiet within myself in order to truly hear others. I know how to do this … it’s essentially a pause in activity and a conscious clearing of stress and other thought in order to engage totally with the person you are engaged with. So for scheduled meetings this is reasonable and manageable.
But what about the unexpected knock on the door or phone call? Am I always ready for those? That turns out to be the secret to this. We can’t control when the next connection will come, so I’m learning to try to always be in essential listening mode.
I think maintaining this state will be different for each of us. For me I have to be aware
of where my attention lives at the moment. Am I currently energized by the anticipation of a new connection or the discovery of a new possibility? Or am I absorbed by the crisis or problem that appeared yesterday? The former has me ready to show up present, and when the latter happens i tend to show up prescriptive.
According to Mr. Chopra “Leadership requires a sound basis inside yourself. If you can arrive at the point where looking and listening comes from your entire being, you are likely to be the leader in any situation, because you have set the groundwork even before you had the first follower.” So I’m finding I need to better heed my state of presence in the same way as I heed the time of day. It has to become a truth for me.
What about you? Do you have any experience with this concept of personal presence?