After everything that has happened in Gugulethu, the group has been having lecture and discussions to try and figure out what all of this means. How does it relate to out lives? How does it relate to leadership? Our group? We started out the day by doing a meditation exercise where we walk around campus alone and just notice our surroundings and try to block out other thoughts, which as usually, was found to be quite difficult for me. I found that I have to consciously pay attention to my senses. How does the wind feel? What am I hearing, smelling or seeing that is out of the ordinary? Through all of this, I realized how more relaxed my life has become over the years. I used to find the fastest way possible to get around campus, walking as fast as I could to get to my destination even if I was 30 minutes early. This past semester however, I have noticed that I have slowed down a lot. I do or do not put my headphones and I generally walk around smiling at the trees. Sounds ridiculously hippiesqe (or however you would spell that) but I completely enjoy taking it all in. I have become very keen on how to allow myself to relax throughout the day to avoid the ever so familiar stressed out rushing feeling. I have also just realized that I am good at making lists for what I need to do in the future so I can focus and enjoy my current state of mind. I can converse with friends; hang out with my boyfriend or family without worrying about what I have to do all day. It is important for me to do this, so I can be present for everyone, which was the topic of discussion today in class.
So I am present within myself, but what about when other people are talking to me? Sometimes not really. I cannot count how many times I have sat in the living room with my roommates having my computer open while they are casually talking to me or if we are watching tv. Why the hell do I need to be watching TV, surfing the Internet on my computer and talking to my friends. Yeah at times, I am doing homework but 75% of the time I am just lolly dollying around on facebook, stumbleupon or twitter. Same with my phone. I am glad I can respond and interact and multitask but how much more present could I be if I wasn’t doing this? There have been times when I have been conversing with other people and they have been texting and didn’t hear anything I said. That is not being present in a conversation and I do not want to make other people feel that way. I want to make it a goal to shut my computer when talking with others so they feel that I care what I have to say.
I learned that to be useful to someone else I have to give something back, in this case myself. I don’t have to bring any skills or talent, just my presence and myself. That was reassuring to know, there is no need to impress.
So what is the benefit of presence?
- · You can get the most out of an experience, by listening to what other people have to say you can learn exponentially more
- · It is respectful for others to be present mentally and physically, actually listening not just sitting, be receptive with eye-contact
- · Don’t have to be caught up in what to say next, just listening, respond, no need to plan
I have been struggling, however, what all of this has to do with leadership. I was glad when we talked about it today. Presence is a leadership tool because it allows you to see from different perspectives and further understand other people. With respect to understanding others, you can learn things you thought you understood but actually never did. By being present, you wont be blind to your group and what is happening in front of you, most likely leading to better communication lines. As a leader, more people will respect you when you truly listen to what they have to say. You wont seem condescending or high and mighty. Being present is a great quality to have and I look forward to using it in my future life. I want to be able to remember what others said in a conversation and build relationships through respect and compassion. Today proved to be a meaningful and insightful discussion and reflection that I will continue to think about.