As leaders, it’s vital to align our words, actions and energy with our personal and organisational goals. We need to develop the capacity to respond to situations or people from a place of our highest values – whenever humanly possible.

However, sometimes we find ourselves reacting to situations in ways that, in retrospect, we would have preferred not to. The development of the capacity to respond rather than react is vital, if we want to lead others with integrity and purpose.

Presence is a state of Being that involves focussing our attention on our thoughts, energy, feelings and actions and those of others with whom we are interacting.

Amongst other skills needed for developing Presence, perhaps the most fundamental is the need to exercise the brain’s capacity to focus. Any mindfulness exercises, like following the breath as it enters and leaves the body will develop the brain’s capacity for focus.

As we develop this capacity, we notice that a couple of surprising things occur. Firstly, we notice that there is separation between our thoughts and ourselves. We notice that there is another part of us that is observing our thoughts, rather than all of us being identified with our thoughts. We call this the Observer Self.

The recognition of the Observer Self is the first step towards noticing what is going on inside of us. As we then focus our attention on our body, we notice that the body is the place where feelings and sensations arise.

The second magical thing that occurs as we develop focus, is that time seems to slow down. We notice that there is time for us to notice our feelings as they arise, and time for us to notice our thoughts.

And in this extra time, we have the opportunity to choose our responses in alignment with our values and goals.

The best way to verify this is to try it yourself. Take a moment now, set the intention to take 5 minutes to follow your breath every couple of hours. Set your timer on your phone to ring every two hours. Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted and sit comfortably. Even 2 minutes would help. Whatever feels possible. But try it – after a few weeks of this you will notice magic happening. It’s well worth the effort!

Let us know how you go!