Clear Confident Leader Weekly Observer, Issue #40
From the Greenbelt of Boise, Idaho, Storm clouds rolling by
Presence engenders creativity, agility, resilience, and authenticity, all key requirements of great leaders. When we are present, we are maximally resourceful and responsive to what our circumstances require of us.
– Doug Silsbee
It was a warm humid day as I rode the elevator up in the old building. I exited and walked around the corner on the worn carpet to the apartment where I’d stay the next two nights. I entered the apartment and turned left into the room I was renting while I attended a workshop.
Sneezing from the hint of an air freshener amidst the musty air, I was feeling stressed. My allergies were bothering me, and I was tired and hungry after seven hours of travel. I set my bags down and turned to go out for a bite to eat.
It was then I noticed a pack of cigarettes sitting on the table.
Now I was really on edge. I needed to be at my best during the workshop, and I did not want to spend two nights in an apartment with someone smoking.
What do I do now?
My host texted me, asking how I found the room. I hesitated.
What do I say? Do I stay here or go find a room somewhere else?
We can frequently find ourselves in new territory, feeling stressed and uncertain, and be unsure what course of action to take. Our conditioned responses for fight, flight or freeze activate quickly, shutting down our capacity to consider the possible options.
Twice I started to text my host, and twice I deleted it.
I started to walk out of the room, thinking I needed time to consider what next.
I paused, realizing I was still reacting.
I took a couple of moments to ground and center myself, and then texted my host: The room looks good. Does someone in the apartment smoke?
No, came the reply, do you smell smoke in the apartment?
I’m not sure, I responded. I saw a pack of cigarettes on the table. I want to check as I have strong allergies and do not do well with smoke.
Neither of us smoke, and the whole building is non-smoking. The pack was left by a previous guest, and I’ll dispose of them when I get home. I’m sorry you found them, came the reply.
Ok. Thank you for clarifying, was my response.
Relieved I began to settle down, went out and found a bite to eat.
Reflecting on my experience, I realize how small things (smells and the sight of a cigarette pack) on top of being stressed, tired and hungry, sent me into a reactive state. By pausing to clarify what I needed most in that moment and making a clear request, I was able to respond in a more constructive way.
We create a better future by being present in the moment, calming ourselves, considering what we really need, making clear requests and taking necessary action instead of reacting.
I ended up having a good stay in the apartment and a productive workshop.
I assist people in developing presence and capacity for compassionate action in challenging situations.
Let’s create a better future today!