Ummm…What Did You Say?
Oh my gosh. Night-before-last I did the parent-thing that I swore I’d never do. My kiddo was talking a million miles an hour and I was….well yes, I was on Facebook…and according to witness testimony, I was nodding and smiling and responding to what he was telling me. Ten minutes later my kiddo came back into the room and made reference to what he had said earlier and I turned to my husband and said, “Did he just say he was performing a piano solo in the camp show?” My husband said, “Yes. He told you that ten minutes ago. You even said, “That’s great, Jeremy! I’m so proud of you!”
I have no memory of that exchange. None. I’d swear it didn’t happen, except my husband assures me it did.
I’m a bit horrified Horrified for many reasons, among them:
(a) I was so not-present during this conversation (yes, the woman who teaches the importance of being present )
(b) That in the midst of being so not-present, apparently I was faking being present (yup, that’s right, the authenticity-chick…)
The irony of it all.
Here’s the thing. What I’ve come to realize is that no matter how much I learn and practice and commit to being my best, I mess up sometimes. It happens. It’s part of the being-human-thing. Oh by the way, you do too. It’s nothing personal. We all do.
So last night, as I started writing this post, I was committing to being better! To being more present! To being Super Mom!
And I caught myself doing it again. As I’m writing my blog post about not being present with Jeremy, he’s talking to me and I wasn’t being present with Jeremy. It wasn’t work hours, it was Jeremy-time, and I wasn’t there.
“Blah, blah, blah… Minecraft….blah, blah…my castle….Mom? Mom! Are you listening?”
No. No, I wasn’t.
“Sorry, Honey.” I closed my laptop and gave him my full attention.
The irony of it all.
Thankfully for me, I suspect I’ll get many opportunities to practice being more present with Jeremy. I sincerely hope I improve – as I the legacy I want to leave with him is that he’s worth it to me – to be present. That I’m interested in what he has to say. That he’s important.
But I know this isn’t true for many employees. What I’ve heard from participants over, and over, and over again, is that if their leaders aren’t present, they won’t come back for more. They stop bringing ideas. They stop sharing their challenges and their wins. They stop turning to their leaders for support. They stop caring. At least about their leader.
You see, when people sense that we’re not invested in them – that they’re not important enough – they stop investing in us.
As a leader, can you afford that?
Being present is probably one of the hardest things in the world to do. It’s hard to do as a parent. It’s hard to do as a leader. Heck, it’s hard to do as a human! We’ve got so many things competing for our attention!
But it’s worth it.
When I tucked Jeremy in bed last night, I asked him, “What was the best part of your day today, Honey?”
“Playing piano at the camp show was awesome!”
“It was! You rocked!”
“But my next favorite thing, Mommy….showing you my cool castle on Minecraft. I really liked that.”
“Me too, Honey”, I said – so glad I had shut my laptop.
It’s worth it.
©OnStage Leadership, 2014 (originally posted in August, 2013)
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Kimberly Davis is the Founder/Director of OnStage Leadership, a full-day experiential leadership workshop. Click here to read what people are saying!