You might think I was distracted if you and I had a conversation twelve years ago. You might have noticed I was less attentive, even blurry.
What you wouldn’t have seen — just below the surface — was the overwhelm — an underground torrent.
Or my mind drifting to other items on the ‘list’ — the constant attention triage.
I struggled with poor mental health.
It was the year I took on a new Deputy Principal job. As a young father and Year 5/6 classroom teacher, I was overwhelmed most of the time.
What was missing?
- The colleagues around me who could help. I was deputising, but not for anything worthy of being called leadership.
- The strategies to remain centred on the moment I was in. I was constantly pulled in a hundred directions.
- The knowledge or mental models to understand what I was going through. ‘Sink or swim’ was not a choice.
I choose to be fully present.
Today I focus on the present because I can control that. I can bring all of my experience, understanding and focus to what is here, right now.
I practice it when I am meeting or talking with others. I choose to see them in high definition, not changing the channel or letting my thoughts blur the signal.
I am getting better at it, and I know that persistent practice has made a difference over many years. I choose to be settled and focused on what I experience.
There is something powerful and freeing about that choice.
Why it’s Important to Focus on the Present
When we are fully present, we can focus all our attention on the task. We aren’t letting our minds wander off to other things or distracted by outside influences.
This laser-like focus can lead to greater productivity and creativity and improved mental and emotional well-being. One 2003 clinical intervention study showed that higher levels of mindfulness were related to lower mood disturbance and stress levels.
Nyanaponika Thera (1972) called mindfulness “the clear and single-minded awareness…