Shadow Strengths – Chapter Five (Presence)

Bringing forth your own unique Voice into each interaction is difficult, if not impossible, if you are not committed to Presence.

The strength in the shadow is Listening.

There is no more present activity than truly listening−either to another person or in simple observation of what is before you in the moment.

In her book, Improv Wisdom, Patricia Ryan Madson presents several tips for sharing control. These tips are helpful and easy to practice. But being a typical western society control freak, I’ve found one in particular very difficult.

To me, Madson’s tips are really about being present; especially the one where I’m having the most difficulty. This one tip says I must adjust to the way it is versus how I would like it to be. Please understand, this tip is not saying you shouldn’t have a vision, or a dream.  It is asking us to focus on what is before us in the moment and not become distracted by the flow that has already passed, or that may or may not come.

The shadow strength of listening is about paying attention; a freedom to be in the moment with what is.

On a recent trip I had way too many hours alone in a rental car. During this driving time I thought about this tip. I began to notice how much my thinking gets in the way of practicing with this tip. For example, I would pass a lovely house and immediately begin to put myself in residence and process what I would change. Why? Why does my mind find it necessary to do that? What benefit is there in such an automatic response? I will tell you what benefit there is for me: None!

The more present option is to notice the house, take in what I see, hold it for what it is in the temporary view I’m allowed, and then let it go into the flow. This is why I write so much about Hold & Release, not to teach you as much as encourage myself.

This tip of adjusting to where I am is about standing firm against the two emotions that can so easily throw me into the darkest part of shadow: past regret and future fear. Giving in to either of these two emotions will defeat me in moving on, leaving me too frustrated or afraid to take the next step.

So how do you pull the strength of listening out of the shadow and put it into beneficial, present leverage for self and others? I wish I had the answer. But this I can tell you, the answer begins in determining what keeps you from adjusting to what is, in paying attention to what distracts you from the moment.

My guess is that you’ll find something similar to my own discovery. If we go too quickly to how we would like it to be, skipping over presence, we will create limiting conditions when, if at all, we do come back and try to stand in the moment.

Presence is an output of paying attention.

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Listen Deeply – Presence

For years, one simple mantra has continually encouraged me to pay attention in ever more caring and accomplished ways:

There is no more present activity than truly listening to another human being.

To be present is largely about paying attention. And to pay attention is to be present without any need to judge, label, categorize, or otherwise “place” what is experienced.

In the streaming interview with the expertly skilled Jim Gudas, I was surprised by the providential ending. At the beginning Jim had introduced me as Leadership Coach, Author, and Speaker in a very flattering tone. At some point (not known to me at the time as the end) I found myself drawn back to his introductory words. I expressed how much I appreciated his words; “But let me explain to the listening audience.”

I am able to speak to audiences because of what writing gives me. I write from what I learn in coaching: and I learn from each and every client and session. So while some may be impressed by the intro, please don’t be. I do one thing and I do it well … I Listen. That’s it. It’s that simple.

Learning to truly listen to another makes you better able to hear your own voice. Learning to truly listen to self allows you to become a more generous listener with others.

Listening, in ever more intent ways, is at the core of my call. And my calling in this world is to love and encourage−and hence my gift in the world.

Listen deeply to your call!