As a leader, only through presence can you stay at the cutting edge.
It is so easy to get comfortable with our old conclusions.
These cozy conclusions become entrenched in our minds. They then become assumptions or even beliefs, and these begin to shape the way we look at things. And so, over time, we become unable to take in new information, unable to see the potential of new ideas, and unable to adapt to changing circumstances.
This narrow mindset has tripped up many a leader. It has also tripped up many large successful companies, so invested in their big old boats, steaming toward their typical destinations, that they no longer notice which way the wind is blowing.
In other words, the danger for most leaders is not being behind the curve or ahead of the curve. Rather, the danger is being unable to see what’s happening right now.
The genius of a great leader, however, may like in her ability to assess what is happening in the moment. Unencumbered by the past, she is always open to the possibility presented by the present.
Think of the great politician or the inspired viral marketing campaign: What they each do so well is tap the zeitgeist — the spirit of the time. In other words, as a leader, you need more than just your own vision; you need the ability to marry that vision to what is happening now.
Here’s how meditation, perhaps surprisingly, can help you sharpen this skill.
To me, meditation is simply the practice of bringing your attention, over and over again, and ever more deeply, to the present moment. In this process, you are training your mind to let go of past constructs—your crusty old ideas about reality. You begin to realize that any old conclusion is, well, out of date — simply because it pertained to then, and then is not now.
In other words, whatever you concluded in the past, something has changed since then. This change may be insignificant, or it may be very significant, or its significance may not yet be clear. But it is very important that you keep your eyes open to what this change might be.
The practice of meditation is like wiping the “sleep” from your eyes. Practicing meditation, you learn how to clear away the old conclusions that stop you from seeing clearly. This opens you up to seeing what is really present, what is really here, and what is really new. For now is always new.
Having this skill is essential if you want to stay at the cutting edge.
Think of a champion surfer. A surfer watches and waits for the right wave, ready to catch it at the right moment. Once riding the wave, however, she must lean into it and keep leaning into it. While this means deploying all her skill, training, and vision, it also means working with the wave that is here.
In other words, surfing requires a meeting between what the surfer wants to do and what the ocean is offering — and this is changing moment by moment. If the surfer fails to pay attention, she’s wiped out.
Of course, you can’t catch a wave that isn’t here. But if you are awake, you can have an exhilarating experience of the wave that is here, right now. And you can be ready for the next one.
Read the next article in this series: Be Resilient
For updates follow @MartinBoroson or #investinthemoment