Growing up, I was obsessed with record players and records. I have a vivid memory of saying yes to choosing Mrs. Miller’s kindergarten because she had a record player and records that I liked.
I would sit for hours listening to records completely hypnotized by the spinning label and shiny black grooves. My weekly allowance went towards my joining a record club at age 10. Over the years, I amassed a large record collection, much of which I sold or gave away through subsequent moves and as the digitizing of music evolved.
The used turntable I bought in 2007 after my move to the east coast mostly gathered dust as it had the bad habit of skipping whenever anyone walked across the room. After it completely conked out a few months ago, I decided to replace it with a new one.
That’s when everything changed.
I started a new ritual.
At least once a week (but often more if I have the time), I pull out a record, and sit down and just listen. I look at the record cover, watch the record spin, meditate on the lyrics, or just close my eyes to take it in and get away from all of distractions in my life. It’s not just background. I’m not listening while I’m doing 15 other things. It’s 20 minutes where I'm completely present, still and listening to the music.
How often at work, are you truly present? Between the emails, meetings, texts, slack chats, and tweets, how can you? This is a common challenge we address in my communication and leadership workshops.
To get present the next time you have a 1/1 meeting with a client, a direct report, or a colleague, take 30 - 40 seconds beforehand (in a phone booth, office, or even the bathroom)
Close your eyes, breathe in for a count of 3 full seconds
Exhale for a count of 7 full seconds
After 3 rounds, open your eyes - you’re relaxed, focused & ready to engage
You’ll build trust, deepen important relationships, and often hear important things your distracted self might have missed.