"When we are capable of living in the moment, free from the tyranny of "shoulds," free from the nagging sensation that this moment isn't right, we will have peaceful hearts."
-Joan Borysenko, A Woman's Book of Life
The Magic of the Moment
This moment -- the very one that includes reading this line -- is really the only piece of time that you (we) occupy. Yesterday is a cancelled check and tomorrow is a promissory note. I know that is one of many clichés on the subject but, as a society, we seem to be missing the most important part our life -- the one we are in at this very moment.
Our thoughts and focus can live in three spaces of time: the past, the present, and the future.
We need to reflect on our past to learn and grow and for the purpose of living a life more deeply connected to the present.
At this very moment, think about someone who mostly or always lives in the past -- other than coming into the present to gloat or mourn about the past. What do you think about this person? You can get very weary listening or relating to a person who is always talking about the past.
For example, I have friends whose son was killed in a tragic accident. His room and everything else in their home has not been changed since the accident. They talk about him every day with the regret of being unable to prevent the accident or change the outcome. I am not suggesting that individuals should not take time to mourn and grieve, but this event happened 19 years ago.
For all intents and purposes, they have relived the year of their son’s accident over and over and over for almost 20 years. They have not given themselves the privilege or benefit of resuming their own lives, to live in the moment of NOW. How much they have missed, over the past 19 years that could have been special and enjoyable!
Many years ago, after a broken engagement, I lived in the past instead of the moment for a period of three years. Of course, all the typical emotions ran their course but I would not let go of the past. I wanted my life back the way it was. LIVING in the past hindered my ability to actually get what I truly wanted -- happiness and fulfillment in the present.
On the other extreme, many live only for the future -- the next event, trip, party, deal or success consumes their thoughts and discussions. Our fast-paced society contributes to this. And not unlike the individual who lives in the past; the person who lives in the future misses the present -- or at least much of it.
Before I’m seen to contradict myself, I believe we are energized by having goals, future plans, and the excitement of striving for new achievements. Yet if we are always looking forward to a future time, we are technically living a life that is no more than a figment of our imagination.
Again, think about an individual who is always projecting into the future and using sentences that start like this: When we get . . . Once we have . . . Until the . . .
That person lacks satisfaction today. People who live in the past might have desperate lives but those who live only in the future can have empty lives. It is quite obvious that an individual who is always living in the future is in a timeframe that he or she will never occupy -- that person will forever be waiting for the future to arrive.
Those who are familiar with The Cat’s in the Cradle, by Harry Chapin, know that the father in that song is always promising his son that he will connect with him soon. That time, of course, never comes.
As I write this section on future-focused individuals, I am thinking about a business person I have known for 20 years. He has done okay, but has never been able to break into the level of success he should be achieving.
One of his habits is always living in the future. For 20 years, success has been coming. Seems to me that if he stopped long enough to focus on the present and enjoy it, while traveling into the future, he would be more successful.
Another result of living mostly in the future is the credibility gap between reality and the future. There must be a distinction between those who are thinking about their future, goals, and aspirations and those who are LIVING in the future, within their mind and with the focus of their attention.
The wisdom of this message is to keep our thoughts in the present moment -- while bringing the experience from our past and the inspiration of our future into the present. Yes, I know that is much easier said than done, but it is a worthy goal, nonetheless.
As a person involved in leadership assessment and development, you may be interested in this: my company’s research established that the first two skills (of a total of 60 different skills) that ANY leader needs to be successful is the ability to be grounded and centered.
Grounding: The ability to focus your attention in the present.
Centering: The skills of being aware of self and others in the present moment.
In other words, the ability to be focused and aware of what is happening in the moment leads to leadership success. Living in the moment allows you to experience life at its deepest and most meaningful level. It allows you to REALLY connect with others and learn from them and from the situations you are in.
Peace comes from a lack of anxiousness, either from regret or from unhealthy mindsets. If this moment were your last and yet one of your most fulfilling and enjoyable, how might you be thinking differently right now?
A factor that I have found reduces many individuals’ success is that they simply did not know what they did not know. They did the best they could with the knowledge they had, but ignorance is rarely intentional.
To address this lack of knowledge for individuals, CRG created a personal and professional leadership-skills assessment to document what our 25+ years of leadership research has revealed.
Many individuals stated they were not leaders. Our reply is that everyone has a leadership role at some level, with someone -- as a parent, partner, friend, volunteer, or the leadership of your self. The Leadership Skills Inventory--Self will document for you more than 50 specific skills that will help you be in the present moment and engage life with more confidence and competence.
So where do you mostly live -- Past, Present, or Future?
Being in the Magic of the Moment
1. Where do you LIVE most of your life: Past, Present, or Future?
2. If not the Present, why is that true for you?
3. What, in your opinion, does NOT LIVING IN THE PRESENT cost you and others?
4. Review your focus and attention during the next few days. Document where you really spend your time living. Reflect on what you discovered.
5. Make a commitment to be 100 percent present for an event or activity this week. Stop yourself from mentally wandering off to live in the past or future. Turn up all your senses to feel, hear, and experience everything the event has to offer -- with you in it.
6. Make a mental note of how Being Here Now can deepen your life experience and your life.
7. What habits and or thinking patterns do you need to reduce to become more grounded and centered?
8. Pay attention (be in the moment) to observe the focus of others in your life. Reflect on how their focus on the past, present, or future makes you feel and/or think.
9. Document your knowledge and awareness of the skills required to be a successful leader of self and/or others, using the Leadership Skills Inventory--Self.
10. Hey: have fun with this process! Enjoy the journey while improving yourself.
Until next time, keep Living On Purpose,
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Ken Keis, MBA, CPC, is an internationally known author, speaker, and consultant. He is President and CEO of CRG Consulting Resource Group International, Inc., Many professionals herald CRG as the Number One global resource center for Personal and Professional Development.
For information on CRG Resources, please visit crgleader.com
For information on Ken’s Training and Speaking Programs, please visit kenkeis.com
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