Breaking Down the Meaning of Presence


I’m going to try to boil 300 pages down to a few seconds. But first, presence is about moments – and I think it’s so obviously about moments when you think about the definition of presence – but somehow it’s come to mean, through the twentieth century, something grander. Something more permanent. It’s a permanent state that you’re moving toward in your life, and you may or may not get there, and that’s daunting and it sort of isolates people. It makes it feel like it’s something for people who have a lot of resources and a lot of time or some fancy education that helps them understand what this is. 

I don’t think presence is that at all. I think presence is momentary, it’s fleeting and it’s okay. First you have to accept that – that you’re going to have lots of moments of not being present. 

Anytime I’m talking to an audience a quarter of them aren’t present in any given moment. I mean, you can’t be, because the human mind doesn’t allow us to be because there are always other distracting thoughts that are always poking through. 

So presence is really about the ability to access your best skills, you knowledge, your expertise, your core values, and bring them forth when you need to in high pressure situations. If you can do that, if you’re present in those moments, you’re able to actually hear what is going on instead of being worried about what might be going on. You’re thinking about what people are thinking but not what they’re thinking of you. You can respond to what is happening, instead of again responding to what you think is happening, all of your worries. You’re just able to be there and connect and tell the story that you believe and have others believe that story as well. 


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