What was I thinking?
A client hired me to deliver a keynote speech, so I planned the trip, prepared my speech, packed my bag, jumped in my truck and headed toward the airport. I was looking forward to being Physically Present with all the leaders of this great company on the day of their big leadership conference.
Half way to the airport—beyond the point of no return, if I was going to catch my flight—I realized that I didn’t grab my heavy winter coat on the way out of the door. You might say, “No big deal Doug, suck it up.”
Remembering my Google search results for the average temperature of my destination, I froze, figuratively, as I thought about literally freezing when I reached Northern Alberta. Yes, Alberta, Canada!
I couldn’t believe that I had forgotten my winter coat! What was I thinking? No coat in Canada? Why didn’t I grab my coat? The only explanation is that I was NOT Mentally Present.
My Physical Presence was assured; I had my airline ticket in hand. My Emotional Presence was covered; I had prepared an inspiring keynote speech tailored to the precise needs of my audience. But two out of three is not enough. Leaders Must Be Present in all three ways: Physically Present, Mentally Present and Emotionally Present.
Right now, at companies all over the world, leaders are barreling down the tracks performing very complex, critical job functions, but many of them are not mentally present. As good as they may be in handling the daily challenges of their jobs, it’s fair to wonder what they are missing.
We are easily distracted from the higher order of critical thinking. It takes an intentional, focused effort to bear down and think deeply, critically and creatively about the world around us. Like anything you do well, it takes commitment, practice and discipline for being Mentally Present to become a habit.
Think about your typical workday. When you are with your team at work, are you mentally present? At all times? We all get distracted, but let me ask you: In the moments you find yourself distracted, is that distraction REALLY more important than what you are actually doing?
Being Mentally Present means being fully engaged in what is happening at the moment.
How can you become more Mentally Present?