Friday, September 18, 2009


There is a real challenge in being present - that is enjoying right now, this moment. Modern technology and life makes it very easy to be distracted and the stress and pressure of Silicon Valley provide ample opportunity to ponder the past or project the future.

The problem is that such ponderings and projection limit the ability to enjoy right now and sap your energy and effectiveness.

Books on wisdom share a common refrain - the past is the past, the future is uncertain and a projection of anxiety or fantasy, and the only sure thing is right now. Too often people live in their heads - thinking about lost opportunities in the past or making up stories - both good and bad - about the future.

The lack of being present exhibits itself in many ways - chronic BlackBerry checking, the inability to listen, eyes that wander or a blank look that lets you know the mind is somewhere else, conference calls or meetings where it is clear half the attendees are 20% "there" at best.

In many ways, I am far from immune from the risk of living in a fog of yesterday/tomorrow, rather than the very real moment of the now. It is very hard not to be seduced by distraction or to walk around in a fog of thoughts that make it hard to focus or be truly with other people - actively listening and engaged.

When I get home, I try to clear my head and really be home. When I sit in a meeting, I try to clear my head and be there for that meeting. Over a coffee, talking to your wife, your colleague, focusing on the present is laughably hard to do.

But when you can - the ability to enjoy becomes so much greater.

My friend Paul Levine told me that the best you can do is wake up every day and focus on that day - not the day before, the month before, or two weeks from now. But rather, today.

As a CEO, I have found that advice to be very empowering and a great way to handle the ambiguity of tomorrows to come and the anxiety that comes from worrying about missteps in the past.