Let’s focus on the topic of being PRESENT
In this session, let’s focus on the topic of being PRESENT.
As a young man right out of college, (un)armed with a relatively useless sociology degree, I set out to earn a living selling insurance.
Through a lot of persistence and great training, I managed to survive when 95% of new recruits failed. As a salesperson, I learned many of the skills and benefits of being present. This was because I needed to truly understand the people I was selling to.
It was more about psychology than it was about product knowledge. I needed to be aware of the smallest nuances of their personas, beliefs, and relationships. I wasn’t just making memorized sales pitches as many newbies were taught to do.
After a few years of this, one of the insurance carriers I represented invited me to leave field sales and join them in their company home office. I had thought I would be selling insurance as my career, but my task was now to reinvent their entire distribution system.
They wanted to convert from an employed agent system to an independent broker system to cut costs and increase profits. I took the challenge and a pay cut, without truly understanding the challenge I had accepted.
Nothing in my past prepared me for what was coming. I had no management experience, and I knew nothing about product development or insurance industry systems.
As it turned out, the job involved a multitude of wholesale changes. These included terminating their sales force, finding new brokers, developing a new portfolio of competitive products, changing their claims and administration platform, re-branding, and altering the workforce culture.
I made it clear to them that I had no prior experience with any of these things; but I understood the desired outcome, and I thought I could at least help revamp the products and distribution system.
At age 28, they took a chance on me to lead the entire effort, and I dug in. It was much harder than I had expected. That made it all the more exciting, but also discouraging. I had a small but dedicated team willing to learn and fail so we could find the best path forward.
Three years later, the turnaround was complete and the Board decided to sell the company.
How was this possible?
Conventional wisdom says you need a successful “track record”, degrees, references, etc. to even get a senior executive role. But can vision, belief, ingenuity, determination, passion, and collaboration trump experience?
I’ll take it every time.
The famous book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill explores the difference between those who do the impossible and ordinary people.
I’ll always remember this line: “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, he can achieve”. The three keywords are Mind (brain, heart, and body), Conceive (clear vision), and Believe (faith without fear of failure).
WHY be Present?
The happiest people are those who have peace of Mind. They are the most successful in achieving their goals, and they dismiss the past as the predictor of their future. They plan for – but don’t worry about – tomorrow. Their focus is on the here and now.
Contrary to the conditioned beliefs you may have, your future starts today. It’s based on the choices you make today, not your past choices and experiences.
The Mind does not distinguish a difference between the past and the commitments you make for a better future. That means you can decide to create the future you wish. You can condition your Mind to believe the future has already occurred.
Your Mind is really your brain, your heart, and your physical body. Together, they make up your conscious and subconscious Mind. Your conscious Mind sends signals to your subconscious Mind to behave in a certain way.
This is your personality. It’s made up of all the habits you have and the hard-wired way of thinking you use every day. You can become the person you want to be – not the one you think you are or the one you think others expect.
Shakespeare said, “All the world is a stage, and we are all merely players on that stage”. Are we simply playing our assigned roles or are we choosing our own selves?
Shakespeare also said, “To thine own self be true”. Socrates, possibly the greatest philosopher of all time said, “Know thyself”. He meant the true you, not the person someone else gave a name to and you project yourself to be.
By being present to ourselves and to others we can begin to know ourselves. Meditating and finding our true minds will set us on this path. This is what higher consciousness means – knowing our true selves.
The practice of being present allows for a multitude of immediate benefits.
Here are some of them:
- Increased calm
- Sharpened focus
- Improved clarity of purpose
- Faster learning
- Better communication
- Better performance
- Less worry
- Higher level of coherence with others
Being present allows you to gain the benefits above by creating a CENTERING in your mind, body, and heart. This centering gives you balance.
Creating a Practice of Being Present Within Yourself
Start the morning with a few minutes of quiet meditation focused on your breath. Then focus on your intention for your way of being that day. Perhaps there was something that made you feel fulfilled the day before that you want to repeat. Or perhaps there was something you would like to change in your way of being. Either way, as you contemplate the day, pay attention and consciously choose your preferred way of being.
Set aside a few minutes every evening before you go to sleep to review the highlights and lowlights of the day. Notice how these events made you feel. Without judgment of good or bad, think of how you could have been different to improve any of the outcomes. Focus more on how you were being rather than on what you were doing.
As you engage with others, you can be present by:
- Noticing details – what their eye color is, for example
- Asking questions to learn more – why, who, what, where, when
- Seeking first to understand, then to be understood
- Keeping notes
- Reviewing/replaying what you heard/observed
During your waking day, be aware of your thoughts and check for these:
- Are you thinking about the past?
- Are you worrying about the future?
- Are your thoughts distracting you?
Here is a Lakota song about being mindfully present and living with the full awareness of one’s existence.
It’s a good one to try with a personal meditation:
Charlie Horn, the GA Founder, has experienced several transformations in his life and continues a journey of new possibilities as he approaches his eighth decade on earth.
After flunking out of college after only three semesters and taking a job repairing termite damage in household basements and crawl spaces, as an 18 year old, he took night school classes and qualified to re-enter the University. He was also re-admitted to the college golf team and later became Captain of the team and set a career scoring record that stood for 35 years. While still in school he made a living selling cemetery lots. Upon graduation, he entered the life insurance business and immediately earned many production awards and in five years became a CLU, the industry’s highest designation. After three years he established his own agency, then two years later sold it and took a position as an executive at an insurance company where at the age of 28 with no prior experience or management training, he became the youngest officer of an insurance company in the U.S. Eight years later, after creating numerous innovative insurance products, and realizing his future potential could only be achieved as an entrepreneur, he co-founded two new insurance businesses with a partner. Two years later, not satisfied with the status quo, he sold his interest in one business and acquired the other business and moved his young family to Arizona to seek his next business venture. In 1994 he founded an innovative new company called ScriptSave that disrupted and transformed the way retail pharmacies engaged with their cash paying customers. Never before had a legitimate RX discount program been established, much less sold on a nationwide basis. The result of this was an entire industry was born. Charlie, with no CEO experience, led the company to achieve five consecutive Inc 500 designations, one of only a small handful to do so. He also co-founded a technology company in Denver, Colorado called HealthTrans which also was a two time Inc 500 winner before it was sold to a large PBM. In 2012 Charlie, with no experience in higher education, founded the Entrepreneurship education program at the University of Delaware, his alma mater. Horn Entrepreneurship has become a model for other entrepreneurship programs and is already ranked in the top 10% nationally and its high school program is recognized as the preeminent lobal leader and in 2020 launched a groundbreaking new high school Entre-Ed offerings in the U.S. market called EntreX Labs.
In 2014, Charlie once again ventured into uncharted territory by founding 5Lights, a boutique investment and management company to support highly promising new and early stage ventures. One investment example is Dr Martha Hall Designs, a company that commercializes revolutionary patented products in the medical device industry.
Genius Avenue was born as an offshoot of Ternian Insurance Group, a company he held a majority interest in until he sold the insurance side of Ternian to Axis Insurance in 2013. GA was the in-house tech platform that performed the administration for Ternian’s voluntary products. Today, after several iterations, the platform continues to evolve to meet the demands of the market. Charlies’ vision for GA is to develop an organizational innovative mindset where anything is possible. The business model is to identify under-served markets and deliver a compelling new value proposition that can scale like a flywheel. GA’s team has pioneered several new concepts including Breakroom Benefits and Peppermint 401-k, digital storefronts and new digital payments technology offerings. These innovations are lead and supported by an outstanding team that is creating a very bright future for the company and for themselves.
Connect with Charlie on LinkedIn