It’s not how much you know. It’s about how much you care.

We all want to be more present, but that too often becomes obscured by baggage from the past or notions of the future. We try to be truly present in the moment, but it gets weighed down by worrying that we’ll miss the moment (a concern of your future self) or times that we’ve failed to be present in the past. That means that we aren’t truly looking at the moment with fresh eyes, and are instead filtering it through our habits, our expectations, and our notions of what being present is supposed to be – all of which distracts us from the real mission. So, let’s reframe what presence actually means. It’s not about the whole day, or even the next hour. If we truly want to be in the moment, let’s focus on the moment – on the next five minutes. This is excellence in action.

True presence is extremely short term. It’s about the actions and attitudes you create in the most immediate timeframe – not the surrounding implications about who you are, your long-term goals, or anything else that isn’t RIGHT NOW. For the purposes of doing business, excellence in action is a way to build relationships – and business is all about relationships! Think about that for a moment. If we’re looking at how to utilize presence to cultivate genuine relationships, then that presence of mind is about attention on another person. That’s listening, learning, and actually giving your full attention (not getting bogged down in your own thoughts about the past or future). It is the intention to generate value for another person, just for the joy of it. I love the saying “what you appreciate appreciates” – meaning that what you truly give your appreciation to tends to grow and develop, especially relationships. This is the inverse of how so many of us tend to approach interactions, where we want to be the expert, the leader, the one everyone looks to with respect and admiration… But that’s not appreciation for the other, and doesn’t require the presence of real relationship building. In the present, it’s not about how much you know, it’s about how much you CARE. It’s about being interested, not trying to be interesting.

This means listening with your full attention, understanding another person’s needs and wishes, and not filtering the moment through what you hope to get out of it. If everyone on your team behaved this way, think about the great things you could accomplish! Consider how connected and informed the entire organization would be, and how much care and attention could go into every aspect of a given day. The great news is that you can practice excellence in each action – and you don’t have to be perfect for it to be effective. Think about those 5-minute chunks. Can you be fully present for the next small task, even writing an email or having a short chat?

Small things done with care in excellence can be big things, and excellence comes from presence of mind. Even if it isn’t in the moment itself, think about the ways you can strive for excellence by keeping a single thought at the forefront of your mind. Do you want to be a better listener? Be more punctual? Eat healthier? Focus on improving these things by just 1% each day, and when those moments arise, do your best to be fully present in them.

You can pick something small to focus your attention on, to give the gift of your appreciation to, and by doing so, develop the ability to be more present in every moment of your life. Again, small things done with excellence often become the biggest things. Shut out the noise of past habits and future expectations, and strive to be truly present in the moments that matter most.

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