Is your presence conditional?

My second job ever was with Morgan and Banks as a young whipersnapper Recruitment Consultant.  You can just imagine me now, with my matching black jacket and pants, holding my A4 leather bound compendium, my heels pounding Collins Street, in the city of Melbourne.  I was determined, motivated and pumped!  I was gonna nail this gig.

I would meet at least 15 people per week.  About 10 of them would be interviews.  I was about to go to my first interview ever.  I was supposed to observe my Manager, Paul Jury (PJ), and learn ‘on the job’ how it’s done.  I couldn’t wait.  I’d done the training. I wanted in.  Reception called and told us that; “Your candidate is waiting in room 5”.  I sprung from the chair, told PJ that the candidate was here and practically skipped to reception.  I was just about to open the door to the interview room, eager as, until PJ stopped me.

PJ touched my arm to slow me down.  Looked me in the eye and said in a calm and measured voice.  “GG, you will do hundreds of interviews per year.  This person will only do a few and all of them count.  They are significant for them.  Talking about your career and changing jobs is a big step for many.  Let’s keep that in mind”.  He then took a deep breath.  I copied.  His shoulders dropped. Mine too. Then he calmly opened and the door, smiled and introduced us.  He became present.  He taught me how to do the same.

I have taken this 30 second experience with me forever.  I could physically and mentally see the difference in my demeanour and mindset from that 30 second pause.  What I learned many years later, was that I was being mindful.  Conscious of being in the moment.  So that I could be there for someone else AND I could be at my best.

Too many people tell me “I don’t have time to practice mindfulness” or “I don’t see the value”.  You don’t have 30 seconds?  Pffft!  You do.  You’re just telling yourself the wrong story.  According to Tim Ferris, the Author of ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’, it’s not time that’s the issue, it’s how we use it.

I wonder how many opportunities I missed because I didn’t take the time to be still, to notice, to see, to observe.

Have people given me cues that they were struggling and I missed them?

Did I miss a sideways glance in a meeting when a topic was awkward for someone? 

Was I unable to devote myself to thinking through other peoples’ issues with them?

Was I in my own mind?

Yes to all of the above I reckon.

And then there is a level before being present that I think many of us are guilty of.  I call it ‘conditional presence’.  It places rules around how I will turn up, show up and be there.  Conditional presence says;

  • I will come IF… you don’t invite him/her or if it’s only you and me
  • I will listen IF…. you let me speak first or if your ideas are good enough
  • I will give IF… you don’t waste it or if you use it the way I want you to
  • I will value IF… you respect me or if you do what I say

It’s placing conditions on how I am available to you. We do the same with generosity.  I will spend my time, money or talent on you IF… you appreciate it, spend it on what I think you should spent it on etc.  You get the gist.  It’s easy to be generous on our terms.  It’s harder to give freely without expectations, just knowing you did the right thing.

I’m not saying stop. I am saying to become aware.

Be aware that you are diminishing the value of your presence.  After all, your presence is your present.  Why not take a chance and give it freely and purely?  You’ve got nothing to lose, right?!  Accept your pre-conceived thinking.

If you want to know more, you’ll love our new online program ‘Kick Ass Catch Up’s’. Ready to go early 2018.

P.S. It’s gonna be kick ass.