“The only thing you have to give is your self.”
How hard this is, and how true.
When I’m running a leadership program in the villages for corporate execs, people always want to bring and give gifts. Can we take pens? Cricket balls? Lollies?
When I say no, this is always a bit upsetting. What? We don’t want to go empty handed!
One of the leadership processes we do with participants in our immersion leadership programmes is about being present. It is a very simple yet confronting process. Essentially you sit with another and give them your full presence, observing what arises that gets in the way of really being with another person. Sometimes people will laugh, twitch and scratch. Sometimes it becomes a staring contest, trying not to blink, being immobile but really not being with the other person.
We do this process because we will be going into villages to interact with and learn from people with whom we share no common language or material circumstance. What we have to offer is our self – the most precious gift of gracing another, letting them know “I see you”.
We are not very good at this as a culture. Being with another demands being in the now, in the present moment. It is a space of timelessness and love, deeply honouring. And it can happen in the blink of an eye.
You know when you are with someone who is present with you – and you know when you’re not.
We’ve all had the experience of coming home from work and the dog goes nuts or the kids clamour or your partner talks to you and you are thinking of something else or even doing something like checking email as you walk in the door. Clamouring gets louder, barking more insistent. What is wanted is your attention. And when it is fully given – people settle, dogs go off and do something else, partner feels connected and seen.
It’s quite amazing and literally need only take seconds. It’s that registering of ‘hello, I see you’.The gift of presence is the gift of being visible, being known. The space is one of grace. It is what we crave at that deepest level.
My inquiry for the week:
is to be present with everyone I meet. I’m going to practice giving people my full attention and notice what takes me away from really being with another. What stories do I make up that get in the way of being fully present? How can I bring more intimacy and awareness into my closest relationships? I’d love to hear your thoughts on giving the gift of you.