So Much Depends on Being Present
I’ve been testing out a number of Meditation and Mindfulness apps in order to find one I can recommend to clients. Mindfulness and relaxation are a big part of what I do when working with clients, so my hope was to find one that my clients could use as a foundation, which would free me up from having to create scripts, which would allow us to work on more pertinent things together. This got me thinking about the concepts of mindfulness and being present.
So much of what we do as coaches AND athletes revolves around our ability to be fully in the moment. Of all the fundamental skills that seem to be glanced over, these are the most critical.
When working on my undergrad, one of the more challenging courses I took was a Counseling Techniques course. The premise of this course was simple: we would spend time learning a technique (i.e. Reflecting or Challenging) and we would use it in a live role play where we were acting as a counselor. These sessions were taped and we were critiqued by the professor and peers. The class was brutal.
I simply didn’t realize how awful I was, initially, at listening.
I would find myself either:
a) Waiting for my turn to talk,
b) Formulating my response to their statements in my head and rehearsing them mentally, or
c) Just completely zoning out and letting my mind wander all over the place.
I made a conscious effort to improve my professional interactions and, thankfully, I found that I got much better at it.
What I found was surprising.
You see, the irony about not being present and listening is that, when you do actually make an effort to listen, you start to realize that the people around you are telling you exactly what they need.
This is true for clients, as well. I often talk to coaches that are having difficulty with clients – adherence, progression, you name it. During these conversations, I am quick to point out that just about every client I have worked with has had the answer to their problems already…they simply needed to talk it out. Of course, solutions will need to be honed and guidance will be needed (that’s what I get paid for, after all), but most people have the basic solutions with them.
Even more interesting: we also have our own solutions.
We just suck at being present and mindful within our own heads. Don’t believe me? Download Headspace and complete the 10-day free trial. Once you begin to get out of the way of your own mind, shoot me an email and let me know if things are making more sense to you.
Let me know if you know yourself a bit better.
I have found that some of us are better at this in some areas of our lives, while other areas of our lives require a lot of improvement.
For me, my strength is in dealing with clients or others in my charge. This didn’t come naturally, but rather with a whole ton of work, coupled with years of practical experience. I’ve made it a habit to clear my mind and listen. Of course, this doesn’t mean it is easy all the time. In fact, it often requires a great deal of control to stay on task.
Unfortunately, my personal life seems to be an area where I have a problem with this. I know that I often piss my girlfriend off by constantly being on the phone: e-mailing, posting statuses, updating the blog. Truly I have a problem being present at all times around her.
So I work on this, too.
Because it is important and I owe her more than that.
Oftentimes, successfully reaching our goals is a matter of deep introspection, which can be quite painful. Seriously, who wants to take a deep look and admit that there are things that they really suck at. In a roundabout way, this is one of the reasons why it is so difficult to stay present and reflect:
Being present means there is nothing between us and our thoughts…or someone else’s
*GASP* THE HORROR!
Yes, it is scary. Yet, regardless of if you are a coach, athlete, executive, or just an average Joe/Jane – having the ability to be mindful and focused is a sure fire way to enrich your life and the lives of those around you. So learn to listen…to yourself and to those you are interacting with.
And not bullshit listening.
Seriously. Really listen. You’d be surprised what you hear.