What I love most about the holiday season is that I get "present" during the month of December. My business typically slows down between Thanksgiving and New Year's, which allows me to really focus on "being in the Christmas spirit." I think it's the stimulation of all my senses from the brilliant lights, colorful decorations and Christmas music playing softly in the background that awakens my spirit. Of course, the peppermint chocolate candle I burn nightly and the warmth of the fires in my fireplace as I wrap presents for those I love all help to get me very present with the significance of this special time of the year.
Why is it only during the month of December that we allow ourselves to get off the treadmill of life and stop to respond to what is really important? We send Christmas cards to people in our personal network, we mail gifts to our loved ones, we take the time to attend parties and open houses, and we tell perfect strangers, "Happy Holidays," wishing them well when the other 11 months of the year we wouldn't even notice them.
The other day while I was waiting for the toothless man who has been standing at the end of my road directing traffic for the past six weeks to wave me through, I suddenly was overcome with the idea to get him a cup of hot chocolate. It has been very cold here in Colorado, and this poor guy has been standing in the elements with a smile on his face eight hours a day, five days a week, keeping cars moving through a construction maze. Why hadn’t I thought of this before?
I recently re-read a little book I highly recommend called, The Present (Doubleday 2003) by Spencer Johnson, M.D., author of Who Moved My Cheese? It's written as a parable about a young boy and the gift of the "the present" that an old man explains to him. The boy spends most of his youth trying to find "the present" and realizes as an adult that he had it in his possession all along. Being in the present means focusing on what is happening right now! It means appreciating the gifts you are offered every day.
What if we pretended the holiday season lasted all year? Why not try and be "present" all the time? One of the secrets to perfecting your connecting and growing your network is to become more present. Being in the present means tuning out distractions and paying attention to what is important, now. As Dr. Johnson says, "You create your own present by what you give your attention to."
Here are three ways Dr. Johnson recommends using your present moments to make you happier and more successful in work and life. I can tell you this three-legged, tripod approach to life will also help you become a more effective connector.
Perfecting Connecting® Action Steps:
Be in "The Present": When you want to be happy and successful focus on what is right now. Use your purpose (which I wrote about last month) to respond to what is important now.
- Learn from the Past: When you want to make the present better than the past, look at what has happened in the past. Learn something valuable from it. Do things differently in the present.
- Plan for the Future: When you want to make the future better than the present, envision what a wonderful future would look like. Make plans to help it happen and put your plan into action in the present.