Let me ask you… how often do you hear the phrase, “Be in the moment”? How often do you practice it? Or, better question… what does it mean?
If you’re in a leadership role, you probably have questions like… “How can I be in the moment with a roadmap to plan?” “I’m responsible for what happens down the road. How does being in the moment help?”
These are valid questions.
For just this moment, right now, imagine life as a river. A river has many parts. It narrows, widens, has calm waters, rapids, shallow mucky bits, unexpected rocks and fallen trees… You get the picture.
Wherever you are in your river, right now, is… well, it’s where you are. Like it or not.
Refusing to acknowledge rocks in your path doesn’t make them go away. It makes you more likely to smack into them. Now, you might be thinking that you would never ignore a potential rock-smacking situation in real life.
Well, how often do you say things like…
“I don’t have time for this.”
“I have more important things to worry about.”
“My concern is 6 months from now.”
“There’s a bigger picture to focus on.”
“I’ll deal with that when things calm down.”
Smack. Smack. Smack. Or flipped over in the rapids. Or stuck in the mud.
Being in the moment is about fully accepting the situation for what it is. When I say accepting, I don’t mean accepting that this is the way it has to be. I mean accepting that this is the way it is. You can’t change something you refuse to accept. Acceptance isn’t defeat. It’s the first step towards change.
Let’s continue with our river. When you refuse to accept what you’re in, it adds more obstacles to your path. If you’re in a narrow, mucky stretch, ignoring it just gets you more stuck. Accepting where you are opens your mind to solutions and to taking whatever action is needed to move through the difficult stretch.
Now think about the people around you. Do your colleagues or team members shift blame, avoid speaking up, avoid accountability, get defensive, get territorial, take too long answering emails or returning calls? These are stuck-in-the-river behaviours. It starts with the individual, spreads to the team, and impacts the organization overall.
The good news is, there’s one individual who can start turning things around: You.
It’s hard to accept and openly acknowledge where you are. Especially when that isn’t a great place. But it’s the only way to move forward. And, if you want the people around you to start doing it, you need to blaze that trail. You need to stand up and say, “Here’s where I am in my river. I don’t like it because it’s holding me back. Here’s what I’m going to change to move through it.”
Being in that moment… that’s a powerful moment. That’s when the path through starts opening up for everyone.
How do you get there? Here are 5 steps to get you started:
- Start each day with meditation, even if you only have a few minutes. With practice, meditation stimulates your right brain to work better with your left brain and opens up your creativity, allowing you to better create solutions. It also puts you in the driver’s seat of your day so that you control how you show up and respond, instead of being at the mercy of any potential triggers around you.
- Get clear on your core values. Values are what you stand for and need to be nonnegotiables in your life. When you’re clear on your values, it’s easier to see why things trigger you, what you need to work on, and what’s going to work for you to move you through challenges. If you need help with this, my free ebook will guide you.
- Lay the situation out, fully, honestly and bravely. You can do this on your own, or with a trusted mentor, friend, colleague, coach or therapist. Rough patches are more stress-inducing when you avoid them because looking away also obscures every possible way through. Once you face something head on, its power over you diminishes.
- Get vulnerable with the people around you. Vulnerability is not emotional purging. It’s owning your situation. You can (and should) be vulnerable while maintaining professional boundaries. If the murky part of your river is personal, you can keep it as simple as, “I have some personal challenges to work through and they’ve been impacting how I show up at work.”
- Focus on the opportunities. Depending on the situation, these could be opportunities to solve the problem, or to learn and grow. Once the situation has been accepted, there’s no further need to dwell on it. You’ve accepted where you are, now you’re free to focus on where you’re going.
It takes courage and, let’s face it, vulnerability to embrace your river. But, avoiding it holds everyone back. When you can be brave enough to take that first step and start a new trend in your team, organization, community and even family, that’s when the river really starts flowing. That’s when trust is built, creativity opens up, and accountability becomes opportunity, instead of something to run from. It’s when you all start working together to move forward.
So… where are you in your river, right now?
If you or your organization are looking for guidance on being in the moment, moving through challenges, embracing courage or building cultures of trust, accountability and progress, please connect with me.
P.s This post was first published in Entrepreneur.