Being Present

An ad on Instagram caught my eye the other day. The image showed an array of simple though trendy looking bracelets comprised of a metal circle and thin, colored rope. It was for company called My Intent. And the tagline was just as simple but extremely direct—“What’s your word?”

Intrigued, I clicked on. Upon further investigation, I learned My Intent has received national news coverage in recent months—spurred on by creator and entrepreneur Chris Pan’s chance meeting of entertainment icon Jay-Z and subsequent buzz around the celebrity circuit. Though as their website clearly states, it’s not a jewelry company but a service project—on a mission to be “a catalyst for meaningful conversations and positive action.”

Talk about a lofty goal, right? Especially in today’s climate of cynicism and division, how does one even begin to deliver on that mission? And how could someone be so bold as to think a simple metal bracelet could change something as complex and stubborn as our human psyche?

The power of words

It starts with believing in the power of words and embracing their meaning and impact. In the same way that #factsmatter, so do words. As we see play out daily in the news cycle, key words put on repeat, eventually seeping into the psyche of us all. Good words and bad words. Words that rally and motivate us and words that sting and outrage us. We decide which reaction those words provoke. But when it’s our turn to speak, we also decide if and how we will respond responsibly.

The old saying “Choose your words wisely” has never been truer. Each day in both professional communications and personal interactions, we have an important choice to make. Do we respond with words that meet the person on the other end where they are? Or do we immediately jump toward trying to lead them where we want them to be?

What is true right now

Persuasion is indeed an art. But so is being present with your audience and communicating first with the goal of connection–whether delivering a speech to employees, creating a piece of marketing content, penning a blog post or engaging with a friend on Facebook or (gasp!) face-to-face. When we focus on a preconceived future instead of on what’s true right now, we miss the opportunity to build the trust that becomes the foundation for dialogue and, eventually, shared—or at least understood—perspective.

If we allow it, being present in itself can be “a catalyst for meaningful conversations and positive action.” And I think we can all agree that’s a very good thing.