How Well Do You Stay in the Present?

Day Dreaming Leader
Day Dreaming Leader

In conversations with clients and colleagues, the 800 pound gorilla is often the challenge of being present.” Vital as it is to leadership and a rich full life, it is the thing that eludes many if not most of us a lot of the time. Much of what we do and how we live takes us out of the present and ricochets us into some unknown future or drags us back into the mire of the past. Other times, we simply “space out,” disconnect from where we are, who we’re with, and what we’re doing.The great spiritual teacher Thich Nhat Hanh said mindfulness is to be present in the present moment.

  1. I have a tendency to live in the future, projecting into tomorrow, or next week or even years from now.
  2. I spend much of my time thinking about the past, replaying conversations or reliving incidents or events, or I play “what if” in my mind.
  3. Sometimes when I’m in conversation with someone, I can’t remember what was just said.
  4. In talking with someone, I think of how I’m going to respond rather than listening to what the other person is saying.
  5. I tend to worry.
  6. I allow the telephone or pager to interrupt whatever I’m doing.
  7. I often/frequently dread something worse will happen.
  8. I find myself always busy, with never an empty or spare moment.
  9. My conversations with others tend to be about superficial subjects.
  10. In some situations, I find myself getting sleepy or yawning when I’m not really tired.
  11. I find it difficult to maintain eye contact when I’m talking with someone.
  12. Sometimes I can’t remember what I just read or I don’t know what just took place in the movie or video I’m watching.
  13. I take my cell phone everywhere and it’s always on.
  14. My conversations with others tend to be about superficial subjects.
  15. Rather than staying with my emotions and naming them (“I am feeling…”), I attempt to alter the feelings.
Daydreaming at work
Daydreaming at work
Daydreaming at work

Many of us may feel a push-pull when it comes to connection. We want to be closer to others, but the vulnerability that it demands is too frightening. Or we may feel restless or distracted or just plain uncomfortable when we attempt to stay in the present.

  • Set an egg timer for 60 seconds.
  • Come to the edge of your chair and align your spine vertically.
  • Relax your arms by your side.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Breathe in deeply from your belly bringing the breath up to the top of your lungs.
  • Then release the breath from the lungs back out through the belly.
  • Repeat several times.

Once you get the hang of it, breath becomes your friend. Use it in a meeting, in rush hour, or with difficult colleague.

You must be “present” to win in life so make your next year the year in which you commit and act. The brief exercise will work for you.


Susan Freeman is an Executive Success Strategist, Leadership Coach, Speaker, Founder and Author of “Step Up Now: 21 Powerful Principles for People Who Influence Others”. She writes on the topic of leadership and influence using her unique innovative system that blends Western strategy and Eastern wisdom to activate the Natural Leader™ within.

Executive Coach that combines Western strategic discipline with Eastern integrative wisdom to unlock leadership effectiveness for entrepreneurs & executives.