Your Future Depends On Being in the Moment
If you’re in a leadership role, you probably find yourself asking questions like, “How can I be in the moment with a roadmap to plan?” or, “I’m responsible for what happens down the road. How does being in the moment help?” These are valid concerns, but for right now, imagine life as a river. A river has many parts. It narrows, widens, and has calm waters, rapids, mucky bits, unexpected rocks and fallen trees. Wherever you are in your river right now is … well, that's where you are, like it or not.
Refusing to acknowledge rocks in your path only makes you more likely to smack into them, but you might be thinking: "Well, I'd never ignore a potential rock-smacking situation in real life." But how often do you find yourself saying things such as, "I have more important matters to worry about" or, "There's a bigger picture to focus on"?
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. You can’t change something you refuse to accept. Acceptance isn’t defeat. It’s the first step towards change. Think about our river. 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 or take too long answering emails or returning calls? These are stuck-in-the-river behaviors. 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. If you want the people around you to start making positive changes, 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 is when the path through starts opening up for everyone. And if you're wondering how to arrive there, here are five steps to get you moving upstream.
1. 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 develop 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.
2. Get clear on your core values.
Values are what you stand for and need to be nonnegotiables. 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.
3. Lay things 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.
4. Get vulnerable.
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 sensitive, 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.”
5. Focus on 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, and 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 or organization, 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?