Your presence: the best present you can give this holiday season…and always

There are two sides to presence – each as important as the other. One is your presence, the very essence of who you are. And the other is being present in terms of giving the ones you are with your full attention and living in the moment without distraction.


The value of presence

You know those people that when they enter a room you simply feel their presence? What is it about them that draws you in? It can’t be put down to physical attributes, or a job title. Those people all have one thing in common. They are all fully present when engaging with others.  Our personal and professional presence is the essence of who we are and while it may seem that some people are just born with it, we can work on building our presence.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from being around horses is to do with presence. Horses always remind you about presence, and when a half-tonne animal reminds you about something, it’s impossible to ignore the message. For example, my horse Opal will stop taking my lead if I’m not present, and either take the lead herself or zone out completely by dozing. Our mare, Kylie, will simply remove herself from a situation and eat grass. And our spirited Darcy will start picking up the arena equipment in his mouth and shake it around. 

When you aren’t present with your colleagues, they will also notice  – and, while not always so obvious, their reactions may be paralleled to those of our horses. OK, your colleague won’t eat grass, but they may well zone out, check messages on their phone, or start fidgeting.

Even though we know this, we can struggle to remain in the present moment – we’re on an important Zoom meeting but thinking about the next one, or we are so worried about getting our message across, we don’t truly listen to the rest of the team’s input. The good news is that being present is a skill we can practice and improve.

Some tips for remaining present

Being present in the moment is not something that necessarily comes easily to us. So, here are a few things that may help.

  • Be mindful

Mindfulness helps us to be present in the now. There are lots of resources out there which can train us to do this better, such as Headspace. At Leading Edge, we collaborate with Marshall Dunn to run the mindfulness and mediation sessions at our Retreats. His thoughtful and wholistic approach to overall wellbeing and mental health gives people the tools to be personally present in all aspects of their daily lives.

Set your boundaries, and respect others’ boundaries

Sometimes, bosses or clients expect we will just keep working every evening or through our holidays. And, it’s up to us to make it clear what we can and can’t do.

For holidays, perhaps try drafting an email letting clients or colleagues know when you will be away and expect to be back. Learning to say no to out-of-hours work tactfully but firmly isn’t easy, but it can be done.

And, if you’re a leader, it’s also important to set an example. Don’t send your team emails at 2:00am (I once had an otherwise excellent boss who used to do just that) or they will think they are obliged to as well.

  • Unplug from technology

If you do need to do a bit of work when you’re out of the office, perhaps try keeping it to certain times of the day and avoid carrying your phone around with you, particularly when you’re doing activities like playing with children or having dinner. No one likes it when someone they are supposed to be spending time with is just looking at their phone!

When someone is talking to you, try to focus on actively listening to what they’re saying – rather than letting your mind wander.

Do you have any tips for remaining present? Let us know! For more information or to register for our free upcoming Wholistic Leadership webinar, send us an email