Last week I met with two people from a recruitment company who are helping me fill a leadership position. As I sat down that night reflecting on my day, I looked back fondly on what was a really joyful and energizing meeting.
Why was it so joyful?
There are a few reasons, and I am moved to share them with you.
1. The care that underpinned the meeting
Meeting with Kate and Andrew was not just a business transaction. It wasn’t merely a mechanical process of them finding out information about the position I am hiring for and then providing me data on next steps.
I could tell that Kate and Andrew genuinely wanted to help me.
They travelled a fair way to get to our office, and took a full hour out of their day to spend with me. Andrew had just returned from an overseas trip but made it a priority to immediately meet.
They were deeply curious about what was important to me and to our company. They took a lot of time to really listen, to ask great questions, to explore together.
It would have been possible for someone to gather the base raw facts of the position over an email and a short phone call. But that person would never really understand what I am trying to achieve and why it is important to me.
Kate and Andrew went the extra mile, and the authenticity of their desire to help me shone through.
2. The connection we made
Besides the objective of filling the position that I have open, the conversation also included sharing stories and experiences in various forms.
I learned of a recent success of Andrew’s where he had taken on an opportunity to fill a CEO role, and through a lot of hard work and a remarkable sequence of events ended up filling that position in an almost unheard of rapid timeframe. Hearing this story was a great encouragement to me in various ways.
I learned of Kate’s tireless work to promote Women in ICT which provided some inspiration to me.
I shared some of my recent experiences and thoughts, and saying those words out loud helped crystalize and clarify the thoughts in my mind relating to a couple of things I am working on.
The time we spent together helped me and encouraged me in numerous ways outside of the base objective of sharing the information about the job.
3. We were in the moment
Thursday had actually been quite a challenging day for me with a lot of moving parts and complexities, with a temptation to feel overwhelmed. But that hour-long meeting was a refuge. I was completely in the moment. I was present.
An hour passed in what seemed more like 30 mins, a common phenomenon when you are deeply engaged in something with your full attention.
Work (and life) can be like this
The joyful, inspiring, energizing experience of that meeting is available for us more than I think we often realize. It is right in front of our noses, but we don’t stop to see it or to seize it.
What prevent us? Most commonly fear, stress, worry, insecurity.
Instead of being present, right here, right now, with our full attention on the people we are with at the moment, we have all sorts of anxieties that take us away – What if that big project I’m working on isn’t a success? How am I going to find the time to fit in the huge list of things on my plate? I have no idea how I’m going to deal with that big issue that is causing everything to fall off the rails. I don’t think anyone appreciates what I do or supports me.
But imagine what it would be like if you could go from situation to situation in your day and experience the freedom of truly being present in the current moment.
Trust is key
In order to truly be free and present in the moment we need to be able to genuinely trust that we can safely put all of the other things that are competing for our attention aside for the time being.
Children are the perfect role models for us in this. My girls teach and remind me of this all the time by their example. Have you ever observed the joy that radiates from a child that knows they are loved and knows that they are completely safe in the presence of their parents? The way they engage in the book they are reading, or the activity they are doing. The detail they notice. The enthusiasm they exude.
“Where do they get the energy?” is the catch cry of parents as they see their children exerting themselves with such vigor in so many different things.
But the children know the secret. The joyful intensity with which they operate isn’t something that depletes from a limited energy store. It is the opposite. The full application of themselves in the moment, with complete trust that they don’t need to worry about anything else at that time, is restorative and the thing that provides them the energy.
What drains us is not how many things we do, nor how many things we have on our plate, nor how fully we are applying ourselves. What drains us are our fears, uncertainties, regrets, insecurities. The more we pull back due to these things, hiding away from lovingly giving our all, the worse our situation becomes.
We must trust in love
There are many things that we can and do put our trust in. But not all things we trust in are equal. In order to genuinely live in the moment, even in the midst of chaotic and seemingly overwhelming circumstances, we must trust in “love”.
I could write volumes on what it means to trust in love, and there is no room in this short blog to do so. But I will leave you with one thought to consider.
If you are responsible for something, say a project at work, you always want to do the best job of that. Deep down we all do. In fact, so many of our fears surround what will happen or what people will think of us if we fail.
So how do you go about doing the best job?
Part of it is trying to put in place the best plan or structure you can. You try and understand and be clear on your goals, you try and mitigate risks and issues, you schedule and do work, you collaborate with others to come up with the best outcomes.
Now, let’s say you are doing the best you can in all those things. You are using all of your experience and knowledge to try and do the best job. You are reading and learning. You are collaborating with others. You are measuring how things are going and trying to be accountable to ensuring the goals are achieved.
Which, then, of these scenarios is going to have the higher chance of success:
- Constantly worrying and going around in circles in your mind about what will happen if you aren’t successful. Multi-tasking during meetings, splitting your attention between what is happening in the meeting and half a dozen other issues you are worried about. Going through each day in a constant state of stress and unease, falling in a heap when you get home. Waking up in the middle of the night playing over in your mind all of the unresolved risks and issues.
- Trusting that you are doing all the things you could be doing. Trusting in the people you are working with, knowing that they have the potential to think of and do amazing things. Being present doing the single thing you are engaged in right now, with a child-like application of yourself, setting your mind on the love you have for the people you are working with, the people you are doing the work for, and gratitude for the opportunity to be doing this. Leaving aside other things until it is the time to be dealing with those things, and then at the appropriate time giving that next thing the full attention it deserves. Sleeping through the night in peace.
I’ve lived both of these, and I can tell you that 2 is by far the more rewarding and successful path.
The bottom line
If you don’t care about the things you are doing, holding back and shrugging your shoulders and saying “if it fails, it fails”, then you are not going to find peace. Deep down you will know you are holding back.
If on the other hand you care about the things you are doing but are spending all of your time worrying about all the ways you could fail, or are disregarding the worth of others to forcefully achieve what you are desperately focused on, then you are still not going to find peace.
But if you ground yourself in love – caring about the things you are doing, caring about the people you are doing those things with and for, trusting and not doubting the way of love is the best path – then you will find peace. And many other things.
On Thursday I experienced the restorative effect of spending time with two loving leaders, Kate and Andrew. This helped me return to the present. Which in turn helped me to be a loving leader to others in that day.
Who could you give the same gift to today?