Sunday, July 20, 2008

Presence & Being Present

How do you define presence? Magnetism, IT, X-factor, star-quality or je ne sais quois. Brazilian Portuguese offers a special slang for it - jeito which as a personal characteristic means "having a certain way". Whatever word you use to name it, you know it when you see it or even feel it from others. What's more, you know first-hand the contrast between feeling powerfully present when interacting with others and feeling somehow small, lost or distracted.

If you reflect back on greats in any field of endeavor, presence is generally the characteristic commented upon most frequently. In a mere glance at a photograph of Dr. Martin Luther King or Gandhi this powerful presence can be felt. Even looking at a picture of the young Lindsay Lohan, there is an energetic quality that those in the performing arts call stickiness and is something they train themselves to emanate. Clearly, presence isn't just for movie stars but is valuable in any pursuit.

Among the ancients and more recently in management circles the question of presence has become increasingly explored both as a quality that is emanated by one person and felt by others, as well as in the capacity to be present or to make oneself fully present. These two aspects of presence are not unrelated. Think back on the greats in your life - perhaps a family member, teacher, colleague or friend. When you consider the sense of presence you experience with them, give some thought to their level of awareness of themselves in relationship to the world around them.

Thanks to a professional services client in Chicago who urged us to reflect earnestly on the various angles of this quality, this month has been a moving meditation on presence, feeling it from others, within ourselves, and noticing ways to cultivate it actively. Check out the next few posts from our team - we're hopeful you find some new ways to heighten your presence and welcome your suggestions on how to do the same.

No comments: