The Present – 7 Ways to Get There

How many times a day…or should I say a minute…are you actually planning ahead to some distant place in your future? Do you even have a clue? Has this habit of living in your head become so rote that you have no idea of how to even broach this question? With all of the worldly demands that we have weighing on our shoulders, it’s a wonder that people ever access the present moment at all. Or is it?

I actually caught myself doing this very thing this morning. While on a beautiful early morning hike (a rarity) with my lovely husband, my oh-so-crafty mind seemed to be on a mission. Actually, it proceeded and succeeded for a few disturbing moments, to bring me up and out of my GLORIOUS present. Let me just tell you, this present moment was quite extraordinary. The air was fresh, (for L.A. can we say miracle?) the woodsy outdoor smells were blissfully intoxicating, a crystal clear blue sky was upon us, a spectacular view of looking down on the entire city had us in awe, no one was else on the trail, my best friend was by my side and we were getting some awesome thigh burning exercise. Yes!

So why in the *%@^ did my mind want to take me out of that feel good place and suddenly have a conversation about, (drum roll please) what we should do for CHRISTMAS?!? Come on, Christmas? Really? It’s early November and all is right in this moment, but my 3 pound chatter brain has other ideas. It wants to transport me out of this divine moment and have me analyze, fret, worry etc…about holiday plans. Jeez, how incredibly ridiculous! Thankfully I became AWARE of this pattern (victory!) and found myself aggressively saying out loud, “I don’t want to be planning right now, I want to enjoy this gorgeous hike. (dangit!)” So instantly I started appreciating all the beautiful things I was enamored with before and magically I became present again. Then I picked up on my husband’s silent thoughts reeling a million miles a minute and I proceeded to get annoyingly hooked in to HIS mind. Wow. If it’s not one mind, it’s another. Enough!

So this is what we’re up against. THIS is our daily work. Our lovely minds are simply doing their jobs of planning, scheming, analyzing etc…and will until the cows come home. However, if we are armed with AWARENESS of when our little friend is pulling it’s number, then it’s a new day and we can take back our true essence of BEING.

So what can we do to stop these mental gymnastics of incessant worrying, planning, comparing and despairing when all we want to do is truly enjoy the Present Moment?

Grab a pen…

1. Take deep full breaths and let your breath anchor your feet to the ground.

2. Notice that subtle internal shift from when you are feeling good to suddenly landing in that busy head space.

3. Stop what you are doing and get out of your head by doing something that brings you JOY.

4. Some possible ways of accessing a state of BEING again are: playing with pets, putting on a favorite CD, doing a little jig, stretching into the yoga position of downward dog, taking a leisurely or a brisk walk, venturing out into nature, giving someone a hug etc…

5. Focus on all of the BLESSINGS in the present moment you are in.

6. Let GRATITUDE saturate your whole body and soul.

7. REPEAT.

Ahhhhh, this magnificent Life of yours.

Isn’t it wonderful?!?

How To Engage A Presentation Audience – Use A Theme To Your Presentation

When we think about about a presentation we typically consider the presentation itself, its preparation, planning and rehearsal. But it’s also critical to consider how we engage our audience — how we actively encourage their listening, understanding and belief in us. Just standing on the podium and speaking won’t do the trick.

Fortunately there are some techniques that we can use. And a major technique is the presentation theme. There are 5 things to bear in mind, though, when we use a theme in our presentation.

  1. Make it memorable. Themes help our audience to remember our presentation. And when our audience only retains some 10% of our speech that’s important. Themes are remembered by an audience because they can be. They work in much the same way as logos, slogans or catch phrases. They are typically creative, clever and appropriate for the task.
  2. Keep it simple. Our theme should be both simple and consistent. The simplicity is critical for memory — we don’t want our audience struggling with complexity at this stage of the event. Consistency is all important. We should neither deviate from the theme during the presentation nor be tempted to make adjustments as we go along.
  3. Be practical. Our theme should evoke practicality and purpose. If it has these qualities it will be familiar to our audience and prove more meaningful. Practicality suggests utility and benefit — both are of interest to our audience. When our audience can sense practical benefits attributed to listening and engaging their engagement increases.
  4. Be thorough. There is no need to struggle for ideas when thinking of a theme for our presentation. There are many workable approaches to getting it right. We can talk to the conference organizers. We can establish whether the conference itself has a theme. Or we could identify if our particular day has a theme to it. In either case we should aim to use this theme — or tweak it slightly to our own purpose. Using something that has resonance elsewhere will be productive. As an alternative we can look at all the other presentations on the agenda and establish whether there is a theme that runs through all of them. If there is, then use it. We could also think about some of the pressing issues that our audience will recognize from their work or professional interests. Issues such as: competition, globalization, outsourcing, innovation or quality. Such issues might be both relevant and familiar. Therefore, they could prove useful in building a theme that is practical, consistent and simple.
  5. Consider the objective. As we finalize our theme we should recall the purpose or mission for our presentation. We are looking to achieve something with our audience. Change their ideas. Change their opinions. Or, change something that they do. Our theme should help us in this mission. Both our purpose and our theme should be aligned.

Our audience will only recall some 10% of our presentation. Our task as speakers is to increase that percentage or, at least, ensure the right 10% is retained. A practical and memorable theme will boost an audience’s memory retention and assist their engagement.

General McChrystal and BP CEO Tony Hayward Forgot They Were Negotiating

Do you consider good negotiation skills to be important? If you don’t, you should. Do you realize that you’re always negotiating? Anytime you exchange information that gives insight into the way you think and/or the position you hold pertaining to situations, in reality you ‘are’ negotiating. General Stanley McChrystal, British Petroleum (BP) CEO Tony Hayward, and BP’s Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg all forgot this valuable insight, and they paid the price for their forgetfulness.

You might not consider yourself as negotiating during a ‘normal exchange of information’, but the exchange of such information gives insight into your character and highlights your beliefs on stances that you’ve adopted, or might adopt on certain positions.

Consider statements recently made by McChrystal, Hayward, and Svanberg. You would think people with their level of experience and position would know, you’re always negotiating. Thus, McChrystal should have known better than to trust comments he made to a reporter, in thinking those comments would not be printed or find its way to ‘other’ outlets. Hayward should have thought about the ramifications of saying, “I want my life back”, after the accident caused by BP disrupted the lives of so many people in the United States. Svanberg should have given thought to how his statement of, “the little people” would cast him and BP as elitist, detached from those of less fortunes and the doubts people would have about BP being genuinely concerned about the oil spill. Even if you harbor such thoughts, you keep such views to yourself. Through your words and actions, you’re always negotiating.

In McChrystal’s case, since the Rolling Stone article in which he made his disparaging remarks has not “hit the stands”, a lot of the backlash that he experienced came about as the result of the perception his remarks cast. Those remarks painted a perception of him being a soldier that was ‘out of touch’ with the administration to which he serves.

From a negotiation perspective, there are times when it’s appropriate to allow people to draw their own conclusions from what you’ve said, without correcting them. In so doing, you still have to manage their perception of your thoughts, actions, and words. Once those thoughts transition into a negative sphere, in which they become detrimental to your position, it behooves you to correct their perception.

Even worse, when speaking, since people can ‘hear faster’ than one speaks, people will ‘grab’ sound bites. Thus, if you say something provocative, or something that is truly out of character with what’s considered the norm, you open yourself to possible retribution.

One thing that everyone should keep in mind is the fact that the more status you possess, the more media savvy you must become. In addition, one should remember that status is perceptional and thus one should always mind one’s tongue. One errant word can destroy a career, a future, a life. Therefore, as you go throughout your daily activities, remember, you’re always negotiating… and everything will be right with the world.

The Negotiation Tips Are…

· When negotiating, your spoken words express your attitudes. Watch the actions to which your words commit, in order to be framed in the most positive light.

· Like alarm clocks kill dreams, a lack of negotiation skills kill future opportunities. Be aware of the impact your words have on others. Become a better negotiator.

· If you use words appropriately during a negotiation, you won’t have to settle for what you get, you can get what you want.