We live in an age of amazing freedom to connect with industry professionals all over the globe, but with this magic comes a price. You have the power to take a meeting while in a car traveling for a flight or going home for dinner with the kids, but when you do, how do you ground your focus in the task at hand? Do you feel like you could be doing better than you have, but need a nudge? If you take care to curate tools to access your full attention, you will bring your organization to the next level by being an example to watch.
How did your last meeting go? How have you been showing up? Everyone has their ups and downs, so if you know you haven’t been able to tune in 100% lately, that’s ok. What’s important is that you’ve identified this and are committed to figuring out the best way for you to be aligned once your next big meeting comes along.
What do you need to be present?
Part of complexity of this question comes from the fact that mindfulness tools that work to focus you on the present moment help in varying degrees, depending on the person. For me, clearing my head by breaking a sweat with a brisk walk by Lake Michigan before a conference call tunes my attention so I am able to be present and open to innovative ideas and solutions. For others, it could be a few minutes of listening to music that quiets intrusive thoughts, be it a Brahms symphony or a Fleetwood Mac ballad. Music has the ability to shift your focus. Experimentation is key. Observe what works for others and adapt to your unique needs. Having a touchstone habit or ritual before a meeting will strengthen your focus a little more each time you do it.
Set the stage.
Once you’ve unearthed a few focus habits that work, you can begin to understand that you often can’t control all aspects of your outer environment. Usually though, there are things you can control. You know to find a quiet place with no distractions, but these wondrous spaces aren’t always everywhere you need to be.
So let’s get a little childish and play pretend. Kids are excellent at altering their reality with their thoughts, so we can take a page from this wisdom. Set a timer for 2 minutes. Close your eyes and imagine one of these quiet spaces. Maybe it’s the Harold Washington Library Winter Garden, an empty beach, or the whole 22nd floor of Make Offices after normal business hours. Try to flesh out details like the color of the decor, the time of day, the amount of people around you. Within this 2 minutes you have shaped your awareness to where you mind is the most quiet. The great thing about this is that everyone has 2 minutes they can carve out of the day.
Warm up the equipment.
Now that your headspace is in the game, you can pick a few ways to warm up your vocal chords so you know your voice will carry your message right when you need it. An early morning conference call with your board on a different time zone can often be the first time you use your voice that day. Warming up can be as simple as humming or singing your favorite tune or using an exercise that actors use. Here’s a fun warm up from the Department of Theater and Cinema at Virginia Tech.
Remember why you are part of your organization. You are on a mission to make change with an innovative vision. Have fun with these methods and once you’ve found a few that have allowed you to show up with everything you’ve got, share them with your team! You are all in this together and you never know when someone else could use a helping hand. As always, we at VPG have got your back.
Megan Van Petten
Van Petten Group, Inc.