A Simple Concept to Increase Personal Effectiveness
Editor’s Note: This post is part of the series “Disruptive and Innovative Culture Change,” a weeklong effort co-hosted by Switch & Shift and the good people at Culture University. Keep track of the series here and check our daily e-mail newsletter for all posts. Don’t subscribe? Sign up.
We spend just 10 to 15 minutes out of our two-day culture-shaping workshop with teams doing a deep dive on a concept that turns out to be the most remembered and valued one we explore. We call it Be Here Now.
An understanding of the meaning of those three little words has enhanced the cultures of many organizations and the lives of countless people and their families.
What does this phrase mean to you? Be present. Stay in the moment. Focus. Pay attention! Stop multitasking. Stop what you are doing and listen. Quiet your busy mind. Yes, Be Here Now is all of these things on the surface. But it’s much more than a catch phrase and is really the tip of the emotional intelligence iceberg.
What lies beneath is a bigger concept that, when well understood and put into use in daily thought habits, can create a positive ripple effect from home life to work life.
To understand Be Here Now, you first need to understand the impact of not being truly present. Ask yourself these questions:
• Have you ever been with someone who was not there?
• Have you ever been with someone and you were not there?
• Have you ever been at a meeting and no one was mentally there?
• Have you ever gone home and left your brain at work?
See this short video on the subject of Be Here Now:
Consequences of not being fully present
Most of us have fallen into the habit of not being truly present. We are often so caught up in thinking about the past or the future that we lose our ability to be present in the moment.
When people are doing one thing but thinking about another, they are generally not effective at either. The consequences of this behavior are very far-reaching:
• We are not as creative as we can be. Our busy minds prevent us from tapping into our wisdom and common sense, or the more intuitive side of our brain.
• We do not listen well to others so they do not feel heard or respected.
• Meetings are not effective and decisions not as creative or sound because we don’t truly listen to each other.
Our quality of life and relationships at home suffer because we cannot turn off the whirlpool of thoughts about work.
What is the value in Being Here Now?
• Better balance of personal and professional lives
• Easier, more fulfilling relationships where people feel heard and appreciated, and are more likely to produce their best efforts
• Less stress and anxiety and more peace of mind
• Better creativity, thinking quality, productivity and performance that comes from being in a more reflective state and quieter mind free of distracting thoughts
• Improved ability to listen fully to build rapport, better inform decisions and learn from others’ ideas and solve challenges
• Improved customer experience and employee engagement resulting from people feeling valued and engaged because someone really listened
Are you really listening?
Good listening requires listening to what is being said with an open mind rather than judging whether the person or content of their conversation is right or wrong. Listening with an open mind, when you are undistracted, allows you to step into the other person’s shoes and see their point of view —how they see the world. This is what we call listening to understand. It’s the ability to listen to more than just the words being spoken, but also to messages sent through gestures, facial expressions, posture, voice tones, underlying emotions and the speaker’s energy. We only notice the non-verbal cues when we quiet our minds and listen at a deeper level.
Keys to adopting the Be Here Now principle
Most of us would like to spend more time in the state of being fully present. So how do we do that?
President Harry Truman spoke of quieting his mind and being more creative in his “personal foxhole.” Creative people and leaders in many fields speak of getting into the “flow.” To spend more time in the moment:
• Know what the experience of Be Here Now feels like and what it does for you and others.
• Have faith that the more time you spend experiencing the value of Be Here Now, the more you will want to “be there”; consequently, you will begin to “be there” more often.
• Understand and accept that everyone goes in and out of the state of Be Here Now. Relish those times when you are in the moment, and accept the fact that you are human.
• Stop and take a deep breath periodically throughout the day as that will quiet your mind. Do it before important meetings and before you go in the door when you go home.
• Take a regular pulse of your mood. Feelings of impatience, defensiveness, judgment, anxiety and anger are strong clues that you are not fully present. Be aware of how those feelings can get in the way of Be Here Now, and proceed with caution in your interactions and decisions. Do anything that works for you to interrupt the pattern of your thoughts.
Be Here Now is an important concept that we work to get people personally connected to when we are working at companies to shape their cultures. Helping people learn to Be Here Now, and consciously practice being fully present, provides their companies and them personally with the greatest opportunities for maximizing effectiveness and life fulfillment. It is also the key to the customer experience and employee engagement.
Have you ever been “busted” by a family member or colleague when you were not listening or paying attention? What can you add about how Be Here Now impacts a culture shift?