Being Present – Start From Where You Are

“Don’t let a mad world tell you that success is anything other than a successful present moment.” – Eckhart Tolle

When I moved to London several years ago I didn’t really know the place at all. I’d visited a few times with my family for the odd touristy day out but still didn’t know my way around. So when it came to living and working here I knew I had quite a bit of learning to do.

I remember one day arriving at Waterloo Station wondering how to get to Aldermanbury, where I was due to start a new job. I had a vague idea but wasn’t sure about the quickest or most effective means of getting there. So I did what I thought was quite a sensible thing to do (particularly for a man). I asked someone! I approached a smart-suited, professional looking chap in the belief that he was probably a city worker and therefore bound to be able to help.

“Excuse me,” I said, “I’m not from around here. Please can you tell me the best or quickest way to get to Aldermanbury?”

He looked thoughtfully up into the air and pondered for what seemed like an age, and then replied, “Well to be honest with you, I wouldn’t start from here”.

“Thanks,” I thought, “what a rubbish piece of advice!”

The reason that little encounter has always stuck with me is because I think it’s a perfect metaphor for how many people go about trying to achieve a better life for themselves. They may have an idea of where it is they want to get to, but find it hard to take a step in the right direction because they resist the notion of having to start from where they are.

I’ve come to realise over the years that people can only experience dissatisfaction with their life when they believe that their situation should be different to how it actually is. I’ve noticed it with just about every client I’ve ever work with and I’ve certainly experienced it multiple times in my own life. Whilst I’ve helped a ton people work through an array of diverse and unique issues, the conversation that takes place time and time again is the one that invites us to accept reality just the way it is right now, before figuring out what to do next.

What we call ‘the stress of life’ rarely has anything to do with what’s actually going on, and has everything do with our thoughts and interpretations of what’s going on. As Human Beings we don’t ever get to experience the ‘real world’, we only get to experience our own thinking.

If we are unhappy with where we are right now, the cause of the feeling will be rooted in the thought that there is some other place we’d rather be. Or, if we are feeling stuck, that can only be due to the thought that there is a direction we are supposed to be heading in, otherwise there would be no reason to be unstuck.

When we contrast this with the way human experience really works, the only place we can ever get to is right here, right now. Thinking that we are supposed to be anywhere other than right here, right now can literally drive us bonkers.

The most stressful strategy we can adopt for motivating ourselves to change our situation (and don’t worry if you’ve been doing this, most of us have at one time or another) is to direct our emotional energy toward hating the way things are. We convince ourselves that if we can just muster up a strong enough loathing for our current landscape then we will be compelled to take massive action and finally break free from everything that has been holding us back.

There are a few reasons why this is a crappy way of doing things. Not least that it seldom works!
How many times have you heard people complain about how bad some aspect of their life is and yet months, if not years, later absolutely nothing has changed? Over time they just got used to feeling bad; they habituated into their negativity, which not only set them on a path of blaming and complaining, it also shut them off to the kind of inspired thinking they would have needed to turn their ‘right here, right now’ into something better.

In my experience there are three kinds of thought that can cause us to feel dissatisfied with where we are at:

1 – Thoughts about expectation

2 – Thoughts about purpose

3 – Thoughts along the lines of, “Anything would be better than this”

Thoughts about expectation are where we cast judgement on ourselves for how we are currently doing compared to a story we’ve been sold. All of our lives we’ve had the bar set for us by our parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, advertisers, glossy mags, even OURSELVES, with regards to the standards and accomplishments we should have reached by this point in our lives. It is where we measure the distance between who we think we are versus who think we should be and then allow the size of the gap (or chasm in some cases) to proportionately dictate how anxious we should be feeling.

Thoughts about purpose are when we get the idea into our heads that we are wasting our lives by not doing the things we would rather be doing to make a positive difference in the world and to make our lives count. It is where we feel that our circumstances and outside influences are preventing us from living our ‘true north’, leaving us stewing in frustration and resentment. The most common reason why this becomes a lingering issue for people is that they make ‘living their purpose’ dependent on a specific set of criteria having to be met.

If you ever wanted to feel really frustrated with your life then I absolutely recommend setting it up in such a way that you cannot be truly happy until you have enough money, energy, creativity, opportunity, support or freedom to do live it out in the specific way you’ve always imagined.

Thoughts that resemble “Anything would be better than this” are what crop up we are not connected to a purpose or direction and have no idea what it is that we want. What we do know, though, is that we’re not having fun right now and attribute that to whatever is happening on the outside. “I’m not happy and, although I’m not entirely sure why that is, it must have something to do with my job, or my boss, or my partner, or my location, so I want to change it all. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to change it to; I just know I’ll be happier when it’s different”. The phrase that springs to mind here is – It doesn’t matter where you go, there you’ll be.

Whenever we think these kinds of thoughts we feel stress. But the only stressful element to it is the thought itself. If nothing changed in our situation other than we were suddenly unable to think those kinds of thoughts, we would simply be people living the lives we’ve got. No comparison, no judgement, no stress.

What I know won’t work is to ask to you not to think those thoughts. As far as I can tell you don’t control that (at least not without years of meditative training); it’s just what the mind does. The smartest and kindest thing you can do to move towards the life you want, is to start by accepting and valuing your currently reality exactly the way it is. Right here, right now is the only place you’ll ever need to get to.

The starting point for any journey will never not be where you already are. As we travel through life we learn that no matter how far we get, we never leave the present. We never leave and yet we are constantly arriving.

To live with the thought that your life is not supposed to be exactly the way it is right now is to be disconnected from the most integral part of the route map of your journey; the beginning.

How do I know you are exactly where you are supposed to be? Because you’re not anywhere else.

So what is the stress-free formula for turning ‘right here, right now’ into a place you would love to hang out? Let’s take a look as I explain your homework for this session.

HOMEWORK

There is a big difference between how you show up in the world when you are trying to prove the circumstances of your life are holding you back and how you show up when you are coming from a place of inspired service. Service in this context simply means giving your best self to the world in this very moment.

There are three ingredients that help things along nicely:

1- Knowledge of how you would like to feel if ‘right here, right now’ were already the happy place you want it to be.

2- An understanding of how you would think and behave differently with that feeling as your guide. How would you treat yourself and how would you interact with others.

3- Patience.

I invite you to take each of these ingredients and add them into the mix of your life straight away.

The instant you “assume the feeling of the wish fulfilled” and operate from that space, the present moment has a habit of transforming in the most wonderful ways.

Initially you’ll notice that nothing has changed and yet everything is different. Over time, with patience, you’ll realise that not only can you peacefully go after whatever it is you want to create in your life, but you can also stay happy, regardless of how the scenery changes along the way.

Take great care. Namaste.

Presentation Skills – 5 Must Read Tips For New Presenters!

Ok, you have done the preparation, planning and practice so your presentation (or training session) should be fantastic, fun and fulfilling right? Maybe, but chances are you have not thought long and hard enough about managing the audience for results. Here are five tips you should read before presenting for the first time.

1. Focus on the audience

‘All about me’ is not going to invigorate your audience. Spend time understanding each of the audience members, asking them questions and getting to know their needs and motivations. Do not underestimate this step. This can make all the difference to how you present your information and how the audience responds.

2. Avoid speaking to fast

A common mistake when presenting is speaking to fast. This is often a result of presenters worrying that they will bore the audience. The problem is that the audience take time to digest new information. It might be easy to you; after all it is your area of specialty right? You have been doing it for years. Do yourself and the audience a favour and slow down, pause and allow them time to take on the new information. You will be surprised at the results.

3. Engage the audience

Get them involved. The techniques for this are endless. The basics include, asking them questions, doing activities, group work, using visuals, stories, quotes and humour to help keep their interest. Their understanding will greatly increase using this method so get creative!

4. Show enthusiasm

Is the audience bored, sending text messages or checking their watch? Perhaps you are not showing enthusiasm for a subject. If you are passionate about a subject (even if it is the hundredth time you have delivered the presentation, your voice tone will vary as you speak. This will make a world of difference. If you do not do it now, get practicing. Fake it if you have to! Your audience will be forever grateful.

5. Know the material

The best way to increase your confidence and ability to focus on the audience throughout a presentation is to know your material and your presentation inside out. Once you do this, the focus is back on the audience. See step 1.

Follow these tips and you will be five steps closer to a good presentation. It should be noted that these tips work very well for group training sessions as well. Good luck!

What If I’m Confused About My Compensation Requirements During Salary Negotiations?

Be prepared for your discussions with your new employer. Even though most executive salary negotiations, especially those with six-figure jobs and up benefit from or actually need coaching help, it is still important for you to think out your situation and prepare for salary discussions. At least, you need to bring three numbers into a final job interview:

- Ideal

- Satisfactory

- No-Go

These “name” your salary and frame your negotiation. Your employer probably has his/her own three numbers as well. Good negotiations will find the common ground between you. Excellent negotiations on your part will be at the highest possible point of that common ground.

Let’s say you’re a convention coordinator, and in your present job you’re underpaid at $45,000. And let’s say you’d be ecstatic at $70,000 – a number bigger than you think you’d ever get, but it’s not a complete fantasy – it passes the “laugh test.”

At the other end of the spectrum, there’s no point in moving jobs for less than, say, $50,000. We’ve named the Ideal (top) and the No-go (bottom) numbers. This is my Ninth Commandment of Salary Negotiations: Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of Thy Salary in Vain.

Now let’s look at the employer’s point of view. She is pulling her hair out with the complaints she’s getting with her current coordinator. She’s in danger of losing an entire $150,000 account if she doesn’t get someone [like you] who’s good with attention to detail. She knows that the average salary for a coordinator is $40,000 for a plodder, up to $55,000 for a self-starter. The top of her range is $60,000.

Your common ground, then, is $50,000 – $60,000. That’s $50K for your lowest, and $60K for her highest. Neither of you know that common ground when you start negotiating. All you know is your own range.

There’s a whole negotiating dance that takes place to come to some agreement. The part of that dance I want to emphasize in this commandment is your clarity. Before you begin serious money talk, your top, bottom, and mid-ground numbers need to be thought out. If they are fuzzy, your negotiations will be fuzzy. If you’re not clear that $50,000 is as low as you’ll go, you might waffle. In the heat of the interview, experiencing great rapport, imagining friendly coworkers (not the grouches you work with now) you will be tempted to say, “OK. I’ll start there and work up.”

No! Do not take the name of your salary in vain! “I’m sorry, Ms. Employer. I would love to work here. I feel a great connection. I love your accounts, but somehow we have to reach a minimum of $50,000 and preferably $55. Let’s put our heads together and find a way, shall we?”