Success – Achieve It By “Being Present”

I was at the gym this morning, walking in a daze on the treadmill and wandering what I would have to do as soon as I got through my office door. My mind was miles away from what I was doing but surely when you’re on a treadmill that doesn’t matter, does it? Your legs pump away all by themselves, the treadmill sets the pace and you don’t even have to think about direction – it’s always straight ahead. Kind of like life really. We get so used to the treadmill phenomenon that we go to auto pilot and just plod onward. This is comfortable, yes, but it has it’s drawbacks.

Focusing works

Did you know that recent research says that concentrating (staying focussed) on the muscles you are using during a given exercise increases the effects of that exercise! Think about that. Focusing on each muscle group and what it’s doing at the time (visioning) will increase your strength, fitness and results more than working harder or longer.

I’ve actually known about this theory for a while now. I call it “being present” and try to apply it to every aspect of my life. It’s why I gave myself a gentle mental shake this morning when I found I’d zoned out. For me, being present in ever task I am engaged in is the number one strategy for improving efficiency and effectiveness. It’s the very foundation of being well organised. That doesn’t mean I can’t multitask – sometimes it’s unavoidable. I just try hard not to.

Multi tasking is old hat

Despite the rave reviews of multi-tasking, I personally believe it to be a poor strategy – often a harmful one. It scatters your energy, it tires you more quickly, it undermines quality, and it creates poor relationships (try telling a five year old that you’re really listening to their story, while chopping the veggies, feeding the cat and yelling at your teenager). Five year olds understand the importance of being present. Watch one building a house of Legos, or mixing mud pies, or cutting out shapes. They “get it”. If it was only that easy for us adults.

Well it may not be easy but it is the best strategy you could employ to improve your outcomes – in every area of your life. It applies to fitness as well as finances. It applies to winning new customers as well as finding a new love. It concentrates your energy, maximizes your efforts and creates a positive, calm environment which enhances success. Want to try it? Here’s a list of things you can do to help develop the skill (or is that art?) of being present.

1. Maintain eye contact with the person you’re speaking with and be alert to their body language.

2. Keep a close watch on your mind chatter (the conversation in your head) and consciously turn it off – it will be a real effort at first, but the chatter reduces as you get better at this technique.

3. NEVER look at your computer screen while you’re speaking to some one (either on the phone or in person). Use the off button if you have to. This applies to reading documents, or any other task which divides your attention. Except if you want to take notes of the conversation you’re engaged in.

4. NEVER do two things at once. Figure out which has priority FOR YOU at this time, and either delegate the other or put it off for a while.

5. Be totally inflexible with “me time”. Plan for it, use it, enjoy it and NEVER make excuses for having it. You need to regularly fill the tank if you’re going to power the engine!

There are of course many other things you can do, but start with these first. Notice the difference that being present makes in your day. Write down the specific differences, the benefits, the ways that your day improves and share them with some one. Perhaps they’d like to try it too and we could start a world wide epidemic of being present.