Last week’s challenge of acknowledgment was part of an eleven-part series of the fundamentals of leadership. If you can be perfect in these principles, then you’re not human. If you can master them one day at a time, you’re becoming a leader. You might feel that there is a slight sense of repetition as we go throughout these next eleven topics; however, repetition is the foundation of building solid leadership skills.
This week we will focus on being fully present. Being fully present isn’t just a physical task, it is also a demanding mental task.
When I was working on my masters in social work, a young woman came into my office for a counseling session. It was my very first session I had ever held. I was being evaluated during this session and without reaizing it I was glancing down at my watch every couple of minutes, in fear of going over the fifty minute time limit. She looked at me about halfway through the session and said, “Am I taking too much of your time?” The tone of the session immediately changed for the worse. I never recovered her trust and she never returned to counseling with me.
Since that day, 35 years ago, I have never worn a watch.
Being fully present is a top indicator of leadership.
An exercise that is not only useful but foundational is the elimination of distractions while in meetings, one on one conversations, and especially conversations that don’t happen face-to-face. Put the phone away, make eye contact, and make mental contact.
Your challenge this week is to dedicate at least 60 seconds in every conversation to being fully present. Depending on where you’re at it might be easy to focus. If so, challenge yourself to be present for a few minutes. Don’t track it on the clock, but be sure that it is a chunk of noticeable time that others see you fully present.
As medical professionals you are in and out of rooms with patients and families. The impact of you taking one full minute of not writing notes, not rushing in and out, but truly being present with your patients, their families, and your team members will be monumental. There is strong documentation that patient satisfaction soars when people feel that their health care professional connected with them.
Try it out this week. You might think those minutes devoted to being present add up. They do, but the long term pay-off of those minutes will make up for any time lost.