The second facet of Authentic Leadership is grounded in presence, in living more in the present moment. As you deepen and expand your levels of self-awareness, a most common side effect is that you are seeing things more clearly, more broadly, less ego-centrically, and are able to spend more and more time in honest self-reflection. This type of inner-work demands that you center more and more of your attention and consciousness onto the matter that is top of mind; this then manifests itself as presence, or present-moment awareness.
Presence is the ability to have your full awareness in the present moment. All your mental, emotional, and spiritual faculties are focused on what is happening to you in the here and now. Being present means being completely aware of all that’s occurring in and around you, right now. It means you’re not in denial, you’re not pretending, you’re not emotionally hijacked, and you’re not avoiding. When you are grounded in the present – feeling your feelings, listening to your body, aware of what your five senses are sensing, and expressing your ideas – you are present.
What does being present really mean? It means being here, completely here, right this moment, right now. It means that this now is all there is. There is no tomorrow or even a yesterday or a later today. Now is all that exists. When we harness the power of the present moment, we have our full awareness on the task at hand – on the person, people or thing right in front of us. At the heart of presence is realizing that this instant in time is unlike any you’ve experienced before or will experience again. The now is here, and that’s all there is.
Being present allows your mind to be at rest because there is nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. There is no past to haunt you or pull you backward. And there is no future to wish for or fantasies to maintain. Being present is truly the demonstration of “this is as good as it gets,” because nothing is real except this very moment. And now that that moment is gone, there is only this moment, and then the next moment. Time passes, but as you remain present, you remain in the eternal state of now.
The past and future are illusions. The past is over and leaves us with stories and interpretations of what we think happened. The future hasn’t happened yet, though often will deliver anxiety, worry and fear as we make up potential scenarios that most likely won’t happen. While your past can inform you and your future can inspire you, the moment of choice exists in the here and now. By relinquishing your obsession with the past and your fantasies about the future, you can tap into the power of the present, and feel the forces of wisdom, insight, compassion, empathy and love that reside inside of you.
I developed the Authentic Guidance System graphic below to serve as my dashboard for my own awareness. It helps me see where my present state of mind is at any time, and then if I find I am in the left or right shaded sections, I can quickly and easily bring my awareness back into present-moment states. I may not be able to jump right from fear to joy immediately, but as I focus my attention, conscious awareness onto what present-moment state that will better serve me, I literally find that I can bring that desired state of mind into my present fairly quickly, and stay there for as long as I choose.
Author of the book “The Power of Now” Eckhart Tolle adds, “The questions may arise, ‘Would there be anything left to strive for when you are so present in the now? Wouldn’t you become passive in that state?’ Many meaningless activities may fall away, but the state of presence is the only state in which creative energy is available to you. When your fulfillment and sense of self are no longer dependent on the future outcome, or being anchored to some unpleasant past event, joy flows into whatever you do. You do what you do because the action itself is fulfilling.”
Whatever you do or create in a state of presence is of high quality. This is because it is not a means to an end, and so a loving care flows into your doing. Your passion flows more fully. Your ability to see what is truly happening and to resolve problems increase significantly. Your ability to connect with others, create trust and meaningful conversations enhances your relationships. You are more open to what is before you, and you can then help others work through issues more effortlessly and productively. You not only are better at doing what is needed, you create better outcomes – all while deepening your enjoyment factor more than ever before.
In the state of presence you are your highest and best Authentic Self! When you are your Authentic Self, you can be the highest and best Authentic Leader you desire. The times we live in are demanding better leadership, and the best leaders are becoming more self-aware and living and working more from the power of the present moment. I encourage all of us to amp our levels and capacities for presence!
Present Yourself the Present of Presence, and your life is enriched, enlightened and enlivened in ways that allow you to be the best version of the highest vision you have for yourself!