Let's LEAD - January 2022


Every year, I take off the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. It's an opportunity to reflect on the year as it comes to a close, and to set a vision and intentions for the coming year. 

This includes mapping out my annual mission statement. Ironically, the process of reflecting on the past and creating an inspiring future made me feel surprisingly...present

  • How have the experiences of this past year, both positive and negative, inspired who I am today?
  • Given who I am today, who am I ready to be next?

Hence the idea of adding video to this newsletter. Trying new things can be scary, AND our Judge and other saboteurs are HAPPY to chime in...they want to maintain the status quo. 

What emotions and feelings am I experiencing? Excitement or anticipation? Fear or anxiety?

Noticing my emotions requires being PRESENT. Keeping my feet in today...not yesterday or tomorrow, but TODAY. This very moment...

Presence is one of 12 practices in my Self-Leadership model...along with Reflection, it's a practice that supports building our self-awareness:

When we practice presence, we:

  • notice both our positive and negative emotions as they arise, and become willing to explore their source.
  • are less reactive to our triggers; we learn to respond by choice and on purpose.
  • are mindful of the stories and judgements that arise, about ourselves, others and circumstances.
  • shift our relationships with others as we demonstrate a calm, regulated response, even in challenging times.

I'm very aware of my fears around putting video 'out there.' After my Judge, the 'General,' chimed in with her usual refrain:

'You don't know what you're doing! Stick to what you know!'

...I heard her, then put her words (aka my self-judgement) into perspective:

Will it be perfect? Nope!

Do I know what I'm doing? Not really, but there's a YouTube video for that... 

What DO I know? The more I practice, the better I'll get at it! 

The General just got a little bit quieter...

So...what does this have to do with leadership? Check out this video to find out!

How can building and practicing presence make YOU a better leader?

3 Tips - Building and practicing Presence:

We can't change what we don't acknowledge to be real for us. Practicing presence allows us to create awareness around our values, strengths and weaknesses, and our impact on ourselves and others.

It you want to be more present in your life, consider these tips: 

  1. Commit. Being in the present moment is an ACTIVE state. I used to believe that if I wasn't ruminating on the past or worrying about the future, I was being 'present.' This may be partially true, but for me now, to be truly present means that I'm aware enough of this moment to be AT CHOICE.

    This can be challenging. I can be so deep in my thoughts or in 'doing' that I lose track of time or how I got from point A to point B. 

    Quick story...when Patrick and I got married, I planned the entire event myself. I micro-managed the whole thing, and by the time the big day arrived, I was so worried about every detail that I can barely remember much about the day. Everything went as planned, but I didn't feel the joy I could have experienced if I just present in the moment. 

    So...commit to being present. Notice how each activity makes you feel. If you have regular activities that you dread, look for alternatives. There may be somebody out there for whom these activities bring joy.

  2. Pause. There's a famous quote from Viktor Frankl's book, Man's Search for Meaning"Between stimulus and response is a SPACE. In that space is our power to CHOOSE our response. In our response lies our GROWTH and our FREEDOM."

    It is in that space when we notice our emotional patterns. We begin to notice how we typically react to certain circumstances. Maybe it's anger. Maybe it's denial. 

    Regardless of the feelings you're experiencing, they always start as an emotion that's triggered PHYSICALLY in your body. A racing heartbeat...constricted throat...queasy stomach. It's the body's way of getting your attention. 

    The power of the pause is, well...POWERFUL. Stopping what you're doing and taking a few deep breaths can change the direction of your thoughts. Take a moment now to take a few deep breaths. Notice the brief space between your inhale and your exhale, and then your next inhale. As you focus your attention on taking these intentional breaths, you are IN the present moment.

  3. Re-set. If your daily habits have kept you on 'auto-pilot,' it's time to create new habits to help you practice presence. Here are some ideas:
    • PURPOSEFULLY create space between meetings or tasks; anything you THINK takes an hour can probably be handled in 50 minutes. Honor the 10 minutes between meetings for self-care; take a few deep breaths or mentally shift from one meeting or task topic to another. 
    • Take on one task at a time; multi-tasking is a productivity myth. This doesn't mean you should do one thing at a time from start to finish, but it DOES mean staying singularly focused on each task.  

This month, give yourself the 'gift' (present?) of presence.  

Cool Resources

What I'm reading (articles, books*):

So, you know that question I asked in the video about how others describe you when you're NOT in the room? How inclusive you are is probably part of the conversation.

Check out this article from one of my Linkage colleagues, Pamela Green: 3 Inclusive Behaviors Every Leader Should Have. Practicing presence can help with behavior #2...

*I use Amazon links (no affiliate relationship); please check with your book retailer of choice


“Your life requires your mindful presence in order to live it. Be here now. ― Akiroq Brost

...and something more:  

Mindfulness and presence are 1st cousins; check out this guided meditation from Sarah Blondin on Insight Timer: Our Call to Presence

Coming up...

I've been invited to be a General Session speaker at this year's 2022 Inspiring Women Leaders Conference, hosted by the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL on March 8th and 9th. The conference is both in-person and virtual, so please consider joining us! 

Click on this image to learning more!


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I look forward to connecting!

Camille McKinney
Leveraged Leaders