Being in the present (and not the past or future in your head) can be difficult, particularly in uncertain times. However, it has power and potency in all areas of decision-making and leadership.

Eric Vigo

Managing Director and Founder of Rebooter Group

Originally authored by

KEY TAKEAWAYS

1. When you slow down, you become more efficient and you are aware of more around you.

2. Uncertainty can create fear which can create instability. Practice of being in the moment helps you weather storms (economic, conflicts, environmental) a lot better.

3. The use of applied improvisation on a daily basis will set up habits of being in the moment which help you when you are on autopilot or in flight/fight/fear mode.

In today’s intricate business environment, characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA). Fear can arise a lot more when we feel uncertain about the next 3 to 24 months (economy, environment, talent, cybersecurity).

Decision makers are being faced with the demand for soft skills to be incorporated within their decision-making processes a lot more than previous decades.

Employees (including Gen Z) are demanding more human-centred working environments, and this includes emotional intelligence, empathy, and effective communication.

Being in the present when we are overloaded

With the amount of content that we come across has increased rapidly, and as our schedules can get filled up very quickly, we can lose track of what we are doing sometimes. So we are made to look at more efficient ways of working. 

One can be cutting people out and dropping connection with new people. And the other is  slowing down and to work in the present moment.

Through that slowing down can we use much more at our disposal. It allows us to absorb information actively, decipher nonverbal cues and nuances better, grasp subtext, and consider the broader context. The ability to discern connections not immediately obvious to others is pivotal.

A term “Think Slow to Move Fast” has been devised to put this in its context.

Decisions can be more deliberate, decision makers can grasp the nuances of situations, particularly amidst chaos or crises, and leaders can carefully assess the scenario and gathering real-time insights.

Integrating slowness into the daily schedule

When integrating soft skills into decision making, especially under pressure, it becomes particularly challenging for those who haven’t previously given much thought to emotional intelligence or being present in the moment, where some think this is woo.

The transportation to being in the moment lies in a number of methodologies: meditation, exercise and improvisation.

These included a focus on the process of improvisation rather than its end product; expertise and practice in their craft to draw upon when needed; spontaneous action and decision-making in response to immediate stimuli; the impromptu creation of ideas; the ability to let go of results in the moment; embracing the uncertain and letting go of results; embracing failure as a natural part of the process; maintaining a focus on agreement; and working as a group with a focus on taking care of others (Vera & Crossan, 2004, 2005).1

Method for being in the present

One activity that helps this along is a simple to execute activity called Word Association.

1. Stand in a circle, and the first person (P1) starts off by saying any random word.
All words are accepted and legitimate, with no wrong answers

2. Then P2 says the first thing that comes to mind (inspired from) after hearing, seeing, feeling the previous word P1 provided.

3. After the next person (P3 or back to P1) does the same thing back, they associate on the last word spoken, not the one before that.

This unleashes your creativity and makes you accept what has come. In effect, you are in the moment with the other person, and not in your head. Apply this to as many conversations as you can, listening for words and starting your sentences associating with what they have said.

 

References

1 Jack Skalican (5/2018), ‘improvisation and Leadership Development: Understanding Improvisational Theater Arts as Leadership skills’, University of San Francisco’, https://core.ac.uk/reader/216989880

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