You Must Be Present to Win

Photo by Sajjad Hussain M

The grand prize is a Bahamas trip for two. You feel lucky today. You read the fine print – “Must Be Present to Win.” Knowing you won’t be present, your delight turns to disappointment. How many opportunities have you missed because you just are not present? How much life have you missed?

You ride the bus to work every day. On the bus a young girl gazes out the window, soaking in all the sights and sounds. She notices a cool restaurant she wants to try with her partner. There is amazing architecture on the route, too. She’s fascinated by the details, the materials, and the colors. She feels grateful for the beauty around her. She gets inspiration for a marketing project from the way the grocer displays fruits and vegetables. You, on the other hand, are nose deep into your smartphone. The phone might be smart, but what is it doing for your intellect? Sure, you can ask the internet for every known fact.  But you sacrifice being present, living in the moment and enjoying life, for 24/7 access to information. You are not present and you certainly are not winning.

Your colleague arrives 5 minutes earlier than you every day. You are never late, you are just never early. In your boss’s mind, early is on time, on time is late, and late is – fired. When the advanced training opportunity is planned, when the new work assignment arrives, when the promotion opportunity comes up, who gets the first shot? Like a raffle drawing, the first person present when their number is called wins. If your number is called, and you are not present, the next number is called. In this case being present meant being present early to win the training, the assignment, and the promotion.

You are home from work, the work you dread because you are not truly present. Your kids and partner want your attention. Right now you just want to relax – de-stress from the job you do for a paycheck. If you  were fully present at work, you would come home with much less stress, because work would be an extension of living instead of drudgery. You give half attention to your kids. They are excited to see you, but you are trying to figure out precisely how much time you need to spend with them to be sufficient.  Alternatively, you could spend time with your partner, prepare the meal together, even make it a family event, and be really present – live. But you kiss your partner, grab a beverage, and camp out on the sofa. Your partner feels unappreciated, and the kids are acting out. You are not present, and you are not winning.

Is this your life? Is this the life you want? Imagine a life where every moment you are present. On the bus, you are inspired by the sights and sounds around you. You talk with your fellow travelers. You get new ideas. At work, you are present for every new assignment. You get the training to advance your career. You get the promotion. At home, you build castles and drink imaginary tea from tiny cups. You cut vegetables, set the table, and contribute to the family meal. Everyone around you appreciates and desires your presence. Now you are winning.

Comment on your own being-present story.

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