Michael Papania is a graduate of the 1992 Newfield Certified Coach Training Program.
Many of us have, at some point in our lives, met someone who knows a lot and is successful in their profession, and yet, they struggle with connecting or relating to others. They seem to have mastered the mechanics of what they do—whether they are a teacher, doctor, or business owner— but fail to connect with their student, patient, or client. They can “do” and seem not to know how to “be.”
This is a case where knowledge is not enough…wisdom is required. Wisdom has to do with living well and using our competence and what we know for the enhancement of life. For example, scientific breakthroughs in physics in the 1930s gave us the understanding of nuclear fission. How we use this knowledge — to build bombs or to produce energy — is about wisdom. What is really needed? What will lead to the betterment of humanity?
As a coach, I have a lot of knowledge: I know which charts to use and which distinctions to teach, and yet, all of my understanding is not enough to really impact my client unless I show up with the wisdom of presence.
What is Presence?
Presence. What is that? I am going to offer you one of many interpretations.
Think of a time in your life when you were performing a skill—this could be your profession or it could be a sport or hobby you are very good at—and for a while, you became one with what you were doing. There were no thoughts about how you were performing the task or what tools you were using, no judgment of how well or poorly you were performing, you were just present with the experience of that moment. There was no separation between you, the person, and the task. You were one. This is presence … this is being.
Athletes refer to this as “being in the zone.” They are one with the action they are performing. The action becomes effortless, fluid, natural. It is no longer “performing,” it is just being with the action.
When I coach and am in being, I have often surprised myself with what comes out of my mouth. I didn’t plan on saying what I said, it seemed to appear. And what I said made a difference to my client, it was what opened the door for a shift to occur.
Practice Letting Go of the Ego
Whatever profession you practice, it is important to practice presence and being. We have been taught to value doing and knowledge, so when we try to bring wisdom and presence into our lives, we may feel resistance. We need to practice allowing ourselves to get into the flow, to follow our intuition. This can feel unsafe because many of our actions and conversations are motivated by the ego. We want to be right, to appear brilliant, to show people how smart we are, to validate ourselves.
When we can let go of the ego and stay with presence even though it may feel risky - that’s when the magic happens. Sometimes I have told a client, “That was the first time I have ever said that ” and it’s true. When I am really in the moment, I allow for something new to be created in conversation.
Ultimately, it is our oneness with the universe that gives us the presence to be. When we speak to others or when we engage in our profession or craft, we are dealing with more than just facts, tools, and tasks—we are dealing with humanity.
As a coach, I’ve realized that there is a universality to our experiences, that there is no person’s story that I cannot understand (or be with). When we tap into being, we access that oneness that we all share, and then the connection can never be separate from what we are doing.
How to Expand Your Presence
Try this exercise to expand your presence and practice being:
- Sit with your back straight, feet on the floor, and your hands on your lap, palms up. Close your eyes.
- Take three slow, deep breaths.
- Put your attention on your feet. Next, find your hands. Then, bring awareness to your head. Finally, pay attention to your breath.
- Repeat this for three more cycles.
Noticing your body, knowing where all the parts of you are, pulls you into the present moment. This centered presence exercise can be done before working with a client, before giving a presentation, before entering your house after a bad day at work, etc.
Hold these questions throughout your day to begin to observe your relationship with wisdom and presence:
- Am I being present right now or am I checking out?
- In this action or interaction, am I using knowledge or am I using wisdom?
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Author: Michael Papania
Mike Papania is a native of Lake Charles, Louisiana. He earned a B.S. degree in Psychology from Louisiana State University. Mike has been a certified Ontological Coach for 25 years and is the owner of Coaching for Success, Inc. He has been a member of the business community in Lake Charles for the past 35 years.