The Value of Being Present

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You are introduced to someone and seconds later cannot remember their name.

You are in a conversation with two people and come away from the group having no idea what was just said.

You look out the window during a meeting.  Your name is called to answer a question.  You admit that you didn’t hear what was asked.

Embarrassingly, this happens to many of us more often than we care to acknowledge.  We blame it on the distraction of our phones or on multitasking or maybe on our age making our memory “not what it used to be.”  Bottom line, though: we are simply not paying attention.

We are not present.  And it affects our relationships, our happiness, and our productivity. I’d argue that many of us do not understand the value of being present.

What Being Present Looks Like

Years ago, I stopped into a Barnes and Noble with my family to escape the heat.  Wandering to my preferred sections, Self Help and Business, I came across a book titled The Present by Spencer Johnson. As my kids dived into the children’s section, I devoured this book in one sitting.  Despite reading it in its entirety in the store, I still bought it.

My biggest takeaways:

  • Children seem to be some of our best examples of being present. They enjoy swinging from a tree, engaging in nature, and playing with delight in the moment.  Their minds don’t live in the future or the past.  A task like mowing the lawn as a young person means enjoying the smell of the grass and fresh air compared to the chore it may represent as an adult, for example.
  • If you think of times you have been happiest and most successful, they correlate to times you were fully present.
  • “When you receive the present, you no longer spend your time dreaming about being somewhere else,” Johnson says.

Handling Distractions

On any typical workday, we are faced with hundreds of choices about how to spend our time.  Interrupting workplace distractions come in waves—regular, ever-present, taking on forms like coworkers, smartphones, and unnecessary meetings.  We may physically be at work for eight hours, but how many of these hours are productive? Interrupting workplace distractions is becoming more and more important these days.

Being present means avoiding multitasking: “Studies show that when our brain is constantly switching gears to bounce back and forth between tasks – especially when those tasks are complex and require our active attention – we become less efficient and more likely to make a mistake” (Cleveland Clinic).

When interacting with others, being present means using eye contact and listening with your full attention. It’s absorbing each moment for what it is, appreciating a job for what it is right now– almost at a sensory level– instead of mentally living in the past or the future.

The Value of Being Present

Johnson says that the people who worry about past mistakes while at work stymie themselves.  If you are present at work and in the moment, you may make mistakes, but you let them go and move on.  “Only two things can rob you of the joy of The Present: your negative thoughts about The Past, or your negative thoughts about The Future” (Johnson 55).  To relieve anxiety about the future, plan for it while living in the present.

Being present may mean altering your definition of success.  Johnson says, “Being more successful means progressing toward whatever you think is important.”

Being Present as a Recruiter

As a recruiter, I’ve learned that being present means actively listening to fully understand our candidates’ and clients’ present needs and desires.

  • As recruiters, do we fully understand our client’s goals for the position described? What makes a candidate ideally suited for this unique company with its specific culture?
  • Does this candidate have the skills and personality fit to jump right into the role as it’s described today?

Artemis Consultants knows that hiring the right candidate means choosing someone who can meet both present needs and grow with the company in the future.  We also understand that we must fully understand the present in order to make the best long-term fit.

Each day is a gift.  Maya Angelou says, “This is a wonderful day.  I’ve never seen this one before.”

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