Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The art of being present

Today I had coffee with my friend and mentor Steve Fulling. I have known Steve since 1999, when he hired me at iMall. Since 1999, I have worked for Steve four separate times. Three of those occasions ended in Steve laying me off. The fourth time, I was the one that "laid" him off (actually, I resigned).

You would think that I would have some pent up animosity for Steve, but you could not be farther from the truth. My wife has often queried as to why this was the case. My answer to her, and to anyone else who is interested in knowing, is fairly simple; I have deep admiration, trust and affection for the man.

One of the interests that Steve and I share is dissecting and decomposing human behavior. We are both students of philosophies that expose the human condition and how one may transcend it. Some of the books that we both have read and discussed were "A New Earth" and "The Magic of Believing". Each of these books share a basic premise; your ego can, and will, destroy you if you allow it to.

Before I went to work for Kynetx full time, we would meet weekly at The Coffee Shop (no seriously, that is its name) and talk about what we had learned that week about our fellow hominids. These times proved to be more valuable than I think either one of us expected. During these discussions we would talk about painful, awkward and sometimes downright scary stuff. The only rules were that nothing was taken personally and you could call bullshit anytime you wanted.

There were many "ah ha!" moments shared at TCS, and today was no different. Today's topic was about the deployment of filters when interacting with others. You know the situation, you undoubtedly have someone in your life (maybe more than one) that in order to "deal" with, you have to put a filer in place. This may be done to "filter" out some personality irregularity or maybe to allow you to "parse" what is being said to remove displeasing content.

Today's "ah ha!" moment came when we both realized that the deployment of filters was bullshit. Not only are filters BS, they are the some of the most insidious BS known to man. To point, when you deploy a filter you are handing over control to your ego. When your ego is in control, rarely are you ever truly present in the moment. When your ego is in the driver's seat you are thinking more about the past or the future, both of which are more centered on you and less on the person you are interacting with.

In other words, you are taken out of the moment and life begins to pass you by.

The best advise we could come up with in our caffeinated state was:

1) If you have filters, get rid of them.
2) If you feel the need to put filters in place, see rule #1

It really is that simple, by filtering you are missing so much. Yes, sometimes people can be rude or cruel when interacting with others. This is besides the point, the point we are trying to convey is that you should strive to be present in each moment of life. I recognize that being present in every moment can be hard, but I believe one of the simplest first steps is to stop deploying filters when interacting with people.

When you drop the filters, you just might be surprised by what you hear and learn.

I sincerely believe that if you can take this one step, you will be amazed by how powerful being in the moment can be.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. So is a filter different than taking what someone says with a grain of salt?