28 March 2013

The Number 1 Trust Builder: Being Present

Dr Adam Fraser was the closing keynote speaker at the RCSA PEARL Consultant Forum last week and, as usual, he delivered an entirely appropriate conclusion to a fabulous event.

Many within our industry will have seen Adam on stage and know what a dynamic and effective presenter he is. I have seen him a few times before but as with all excellent speakers, the more frequently you hear them speak, the more you want to hear them again because they provide that wonderfully intoxicating combination of education, entertainment and motivation.

Adam covered a range of things within the topic of Flow: The Key to High Performance. I couldn't possibly do Adam's presentation justice in a blog but I did want to highlight a couple of very powerful things that Adam shared.

1. Multi-tasking is a time-wasting delusion: Focusing on one task to completion will always be a more productive way to work than constantly 'context switching'.

Adam proved this when he asked us to write 'multitasking disengages my brain' on a piece of paper and then directly below, write the complete alphabet in order.

The first time we were asked to complete the exercise we had to switch between each line ie write 'm' (the first letter of 'multi-tasking'), then 'a', then 'u' (the second letter of 'multi-tasking') then 'b' and so on. Then we were asked to complete the exercise by writing each line fully before writing the other line. The result was revealing. On average, it took 4 times longer to undertake the task the first way compared to the second way.

The past few days have been a classic example of this principle in action. As a Tasmanian cricket fan, I have been following the progress of my team as they contest the final of the domestic first class competition (Sheffield Shield).

As the match ebbed and flowed I constantly found myself being drawn back to the ball-by-ball blog of the final and, as a result, having my momentum interrupted constantly. The result of this context switching is that it is now 7.17am on a Wednesday morning as I write this and I am well behind my self-imposed deadline for completing InSight!

Adam asked us the question: 'Is your environment helping you focus? If it's not then make sure you do everything in your power to change your environment so that it does help you focus.'

Highly effective people know that multi-tasking is bunk and do everything in their power to 'be present' so that they can complete one task before moving on to the next task.

2. Being present with people builds trust: Ever had an experience where the person you were talking to was clearly somewhere else; not physically but with their attention? It's not only annoying it's disrespectful and it's a waste of time.

Any communication that occurs in that interaction is devalued by the lack of focus one person is bringing to that conversation. The opportunity to build trust is lost. Adam suggested that 50% of the time people are not genuinely present in their conversations as they are absorbed by some other concern.

In the time I have spent with my five year old son, James, since Adam's presentation last Thursday, I have been very conscious of giving him my full attention whenever I am with him. I have left my phone elsewhere and when James has spoken to me I have looked him in the eye and given him my full attention. It's been far more difficult than I might have thought. I am embarrassed at how easily I am distracted and not genuinely present with him.

The result has been that, this morning, James completed all the daily preparation-for-school tasks I asked him to do, without having to ask him a second time. Wow! That's the power of being present.

As Adam said, 'Giving people your undivided attention is a real gift and something they don't experience all the time. This undivided attention builds trust and when you have trust you have the foundation of being a genuine leader of people.'

Are you giving your undivided, uninterrupted attention to both your tasks and your interactions with people?

How much more might you accomplish and achieve if you did?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Ross - Love your insights about being present and also about remembering what you've learned. Will definitely take more action sooner.