Friday Five: Staying in the moment

As leaders, we spend a lot of time thinking about the future, don’t we? Whether we are going through the visioning process or striving to meet personal or professional goals, leaders typically have a futuristic mindset. We get excited about the future (as we should) and we love to let our minds wander about all the possibilities that exist within the days, months, and years to come. We enjoy wondering what’s next – in our career, with our family, and with other things that are important to us. For many, the future can provide a sense of motivation and purpose because we are goal oriented.

But because of the many unknowns and all the different variables, thinking about the future can take a lot of time. And sometimes, it can remove us from the present. From the now. It can distract us from our daily interactions with others, from the beauty of our daily lives, from our relationships, and from our daily thoughts.

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What would happen if we could pause for a moment each day to embrace the present moment? Would we be able to relax a bit more and stress a bit less? Would we be able to accomplish more and increase our productivity? Would our relationships flourish? Would our momentum continue building?

Staying in the moment is tough and it typically doesn’t come naturally. We are constantly surrounded by so many distractions and disruptions in our lives. We have short attention spans and busy schedules and the “present moment” flies by so quickly.

Here are my 5 tips for staying in the moment:

Pause.
Being intentional in your daily routine can be the first step to staying in the moment. Pausing allows you to recognize that you want to shift your mindset to that very moment. It helps you to actively think about what you are doing and to escape the chaos surrounding you in that moment.

Reflect.
Taking the time to reflect allows you to embrace the present moment. It can help you to recognize everything that is happening and develop an increased appreciation for the beauty of that moment. Reflect upon the stillness surrounding you. Reflect upon the sights and sounds that you are immersed in.

Breathe.
Though breathing is such a natural process, intentional breathing can provide you with so much control in the moment. Breathing allows you to de-stress, relax and be fully present in the moment.

Write.
Writing is a powerful practice. Pausing in the moment and capturing your thoughts, feelings, and environments will help to solidify the value of staying in the moment. Writing in the moment allows you to focus your attention and energy while capturing a glimpse of the most still moments of your life.

Repeat.
Repeating this process will make it more natural. Before you know it, you will find yourself enjoying the little things in life more and making the most of every moment. You will be more engaged in conversations and more present with your family, friends, and colleagues.

Will you make it a priority to intentionally stay in the moment? Will you embrace the beauty of everyday life? Will you pause, reflect, breathe, and write a little bit more today
Let’s do it together.

Blake is a marketing and community engagement intern at LeaderShape and a graduating senior at Missouri State University studying public relations. Blake enjoys unplugging and recharging by kayaking, hiking, and reading a good book.

A Few Words From Paul: What does all this mean?

I have referenced Victor Frankl’s work, Man’s Search for Meaning, many times throughout my career and in my personal life. So many times, that I should ask everyone before I mention it, “Have I told you about Victor Frankl already?” You know you are getting old when you start to tell the same stories repeatedly. I keep telling myself they work so I keep on telling them. Persistence, I guess.

Anyway, I believe we all go through tough times, and if we are not, we need to push the envelope a little more because that is where personal growth happens. Phrases like the following: “That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” “I never said it was easy, I only said it was worth it,” “No pain, no gain,” etc., etc., etc. Most all of these focus on the meaning we assign to the events that take place in our lives. We can endure anything if the “why” is strong enough.

It is our choice to create the meaning we attach to any event in our lives. Always.

Things happen and we decide what they mean to us. Usually, we do this through the stories we tell each other. Even more importantly, we do this through the stories we tell ourselves. That inner narrative is so crucial to our success, our vision, our leadership.
Those of us that can tell a different story – one of meaning, one of hope, one of possibility – can do amazing things with the time we have.

Unfortunately, many of us tell a different story. A story of excuses. A story of lost opportunity. A story of unfairness.

What is your story? What meaning do you attach to what happens to you in your life? I recently finished the book, The Power of Meaning by Emily Esfahani Smith, and it blew me away. I read so much that it is rare for me to get giddy about a book, but this one did it to me. It speaks to what we do at LeaderShape…helping people find their purpose, their meaning, their vision.

I could not stop thinking about the differences between having a vision and having meaning or purpose in your life. Is there a difference? I think so, and I think the big one is that if you have meaning behind your vision, you keep going. You persist. You persevere. You do what it takes to make it happen.

You also realize that having meaning or purpose in your life may be enough. All you need to have a wonderful life.

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I wonder how the world would be different if everyone just knew their purpose. How they are uniquely qualified to make a difference in the world. Even without the accomplishment of achieving your vision, I think we would feel a little more secure and be a little more resilient when things happen in the world that we don’t understand.

Take a few moments today and think about your purpose. Not your vision, but your purpose. Why you are here.

Share it with us at LeaderShape.

That’s our purpose.


Paul is the President of LeaderShape and pinches himself everyday for that opportunity. He is a father, son, husband, athlete, avid reader, eternal optimist, and sucker for the underdog.

Friday 5: Dinner Party? 5 Leaders I would Invite

Growing up, my family sat down to eat dinner together 7 days a week. So it’s no surprise that connecting with people over food is one of my favourite ways to spend my free time. It’s not just because I love food – I also love the questions, laughs, and stories that can be shared when people sit down to connect with one another.

Can you imagine the transformative conversations that would happen if the 75,000-strong LeaderShape community attended one large dinner party?

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That got me thinking – if I could invite 5 leaders to a dinner party, who would I invite and why? The 5 leaders I chose demonstrate building community, resilience, vulnerability, vision, and empowerment.

Chance the Rapper: Building Community
Chance the Rapper is an active leader in his local Chicago community. After hosting a concert in Chicago’s Grant Park the day before the 2016 US presidential elections, Chance the Rapper led a parade of thousands of voters through the streets of Chicago, IL to an early voting site. Why? Because according to Chance, “The fact that you’re an artist that has millions of ears that potentially can reach hundreds of millions of ears and spirits and hearts…why not use that gift to uplift others and to speak up for others who don’t get to speak up?”

This isn’t the first time Chance the Rapper has given back to Chicago. In 2015, he partnered with The Empowerment Plan for The Warmest Winter. This project created over 1000 self-heating, water-resistant jackets that doubled as sleeping bags for the homeless in Chicago! Chance has also raised more than $100,000 for new technology equipment to help six Chicago elementary schools as part of the Get Schooled program.

I would invite Chance to my dinner party because to me, he reminds me that I don’t need to be a rapper in order to build community. Leadership is about uplifting others and I can start where I am with what I have.

Malala Yousafzai: Resilience
The youngest guest at my dinner party would be an 18 year old Pakistani girl who also happens to be the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize! She is Malala Yousafzai. Among the many inspirational words that she has shared, she once said, “If we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.” After surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban in 2012, Malala forgave her attacker and she even left Jon Stewart so speechless he jokingly asked about adopting her!

Her bravery, kindness and humility inspires my leadership and I would be in tears to have a resilient leader like her as a dinner guest! Despite setbacks, threats and barriers, Malala is an example of staying true to your core values and staying committed to your vision of making the world a better place.   

Brené Brown: Vulnerability
Vulnerability is a continuous work in progress for me. Yet something tells me if Brené Brown accepted an invitation to my dinner party, I would have no problem being completely vulnerable with her. And that is probably due to how authentic, transparent and approachable she is. For me, Brené Brown embodies “to lead, live,” because she inspires me to be the type of leader who can quiet my inner voice when it nags me with fear and doubt. She inspires me to be the type of leader that isn’t afraid to be seen, in all my imperfections. And she inspires me to be the type of leader that has clarity of values. As a vulnerability researcher and storyteller, Brené probably has a plethora of leadership lessons to share – and you can hear some of those lessons in my favourite talk by her: “Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count.”

Steve Jobs: Vision
Visionary. Master Storyteller. Inventor. If dinner parties had a keynote speaker, mine would be Steve Jobs.  His legacy may be obvious, but I think that we will be studying the leadership lessons he taught us for a long time. As a leader, storytelling is a powerful way to connect with others and articulate our vision. Steve Jobs did this every time he took the stage at an Apple Event. We can even look at each of his 458 invention and design patents as stretch and manageable goals that contribute to his overarching vision for Apple. Steve Jobs is a leader whose passion, focus and determination transformed not only Apple as a company, but transformed the world. This article “The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs” has some interesting anecdotes about Steve Jobs as a leader that I would definitely want to ask him about during a dinner party.

Alexis Jones: Empowerment
About 2 years ago, I bought a book titled, “I Am That Girl: How to Speak Your Truth, Discover Your Purpose, and #bethatgirl,” by Alexis Jones.  I can be very picky about self-help books, but I found this book to be incredibly empowering and highly recommend it. Outside of writing a book, Alexis Jones has co-founded I Am That Girl, a non-profit organization that values community, emotional, physical and mental well-being, leadership, diversity and meaningful conversations. All topics that I want my leadership to address and impact. Alexis also founded the ProtectHer Program, an initiative aimed at addressing domestic abuse and sexual assault on campuses. And if you follow her on Instagram, you’ll see that Alexis is incredibly down-to-earth and open about who she is and what she is all about. Plus she was a contestant on Survivor, so that would make great dinner conversation as well.

Brené Brown, Malala, Chance the Rapper, Steve Jobs, and Alexis Jones are all leaders I look up to and can learn a lot from. If you had to invite 5 leaders to a dinner party, who would you choose? And what leadership lessons can you learn from them?

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Clivane Previlon plans to host a “girls’ night in” dinner party for her closest friends in the near future. Until then, she looks forward to receiving her undergrad degree in June 2017 and pursuing a career as a communications professional. When she’s not on Twitter (@clivaneprevilon), Clivane loves kickboxing, reading, and blogging. Connect with her at: www.clivane.com.