It was a great concert – everyone was enjoying the music, the mood and the experience. There was an excitement that you could feel. Yet I observed something that I thought was odd – not distracting, just odd. Two men sitting in the row behind me were discussing an entirely different band and experience. It struck me that they were totally unaware of where they were and what was going on around them.
When I mentioned it to a young colleague, her comment was that “They weren’t present in the moment.” That was it, I thought. And why spend the money when you are not going to be part of the experience. My colleague (who is younger in age but not necessarily younger in wisdom) quipped that she worried about her generation – that they appeared to be more tethered to their devices and not taking advantage of relationships and experiences.
A recent discussion came around to a similar topic – and the question was posed: “Were the younger generations disengaged? One of the participants was adamant that they (referring primarily to teenagers) were more connected than previous generations. They had wide networks that they “communicate with”. Are they really communicating or merely exchanging bits of information I wondered?
I attended a presentation this year about improvisation – and how to cultivate and practice spontaneity in organizations. The speaker’s premise was that leaders and improvisers share three qualities: presence, acceptance and trust.
- Presence – the ability to be here and now and focus one’s thinking in order to move toward a goal.
- Acceptance – the ability to deal with reality as it is rather than as we’d like it to be.
- Trust – the ability to suspend judgment while remaining open to unforeseen outcomes
He got my attention at “presence” – the ability to be here and now. He engaged us in a series of exercises so we could practice and strengthen our ability to be spontaneous. He encouraged us to draw from the environment – the room where we were sitting – for cues. For me, the physical environment (positive or negative) is all part of the experience. It helps to engage me. I strive to be keenly aware of what’s going on around me. I don’t want to miss anything. Too often what I observe is people looking down, missing everything.
The quality of any experience is influenced by so many factors. Think of a good conversation which is enhanced by the people present and participating in it – their antics, body language and passion. It’s so much more than information exchange – it’s true communication.
Take the time to look up from that devise. Look around you. Get involved and engaged. Don’t just smell the roses; take the time to look at them. Be present and draw from the environment. It may lead you closer to that goal.
August 21, 2013
by Cornelia Gamlem filed under