A jungle lesson in presence

I just returned from holidays with my children in Costa Rica where we explored wildlife and nature.  We stayed 2 days and 2 nights in the Braulio Carillo National Park and our guide during these 2 days was Leo.  We immediately felt safe with Leo, he was radiating wisdom, lots of life experience, very grounded, very serene and it seemed as nothing could bring Leo out of balance. 

Leo started explaining us the typical trails we could walk on in the park.  I looked at Leo and said: ” Please, don’t take us on the tourist trails, we want to feel the jungle, walk on earth.  Don’t lead us on trails but let us experience and discover our own paths.” Leo looked at me and the kids, and said: “OK, I get it.”  Leo took us out in the jungle and what I witnessed happening was a mini-leadership retreat with my kids.  I have seen them grow in those 2 days and know they learnt lessons for life. Leo was a great teacher.  He was modeling leadership in a unique way. Every word he spoke, was spoken with intention, landed, stuck and had the desired impact. I am happy to share with you our jungle lesson and hope it inspires you!

A jungle lesson in Presence

Leo said: “Kids listen, when we go into the jungle,  I need you to be fully present.  Every step you make, you have to make it consciously. You must look where you put your feet, you don’t just put them anywhere. Every step you make is a conscious step. Behind every tree, under every leaf can be a snake or any other animal.  This is their home and we are the visitors.”

Every step we made was a conscious step. Being so present expanded our ability to see, expanded our awareness of the beautiful nature around us. All our senses were wide awake and open. We were focussed solely on the jungle with our whole being.  Our minds were not with school or friends or business.  Our minds were not wandering off in the past, or in the future.  We were fully absorbed by the jungle, the sounds, the smells, the beauty, the wildlife. We were so in the moment, so in the “now”.  We even had moments where we crossed “natural bridges” with loose stones and pieces of wood.  We had not one single moment of distraction and felt safe, because before putting our feet down, we would test if whatever we would step upon would hold us.  Every single step we made, was a conscious step. 

We experienced this quality of being present generating sweet happiness and flow.  

Being fully present is a challenging leadership skill in corporations!                –Jungle experiences transferred into business life-

Workload for leaders/managers in corporate life is high and the distractions are manifold. It is a challenge to be highly focussed and fully present. Multitasking is “in”, expected and makes us look busy. The truth is that it takes us either in the past or in the future, we loose the connection with the “now” and it reduces our presence, our focus.

Example:  If we are in dialogue with someone and our mind wanders off to what to do next (the future), or to the conversation we had yesterday with our boss (the past), we are no longer present (in the “now”). Our conversation partner will sense that we are no longer present and the impact will be that we loose connection. 

By being solely focussed on and absorbed by the jungle and through being so present, we experienced a state of flow(*).  Our adventure through the jungle, would never have lead to this state of flow if Leo would not have started off with requesting us to be really present. We probably would have started walking without the same awareness and without having made the conscious choice of being fully present. 

This means that it is not so much what we did, but how we did it that brought us a much deeper experience leading to a feeling of fulfillment and happiness. And how we did it, was a conscious choice.  It also means that we can choose for more fulfillment in our daily lives by making conscious choices on how to do what we do. 

Some questions for reflection: 

  • On a scale from 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with how present you are in your business life?
  • How would you like it to be?
  • What helps you to increase your focus, consciousness and awareness?
  • What becomes available to you in business life, when every step you make becomes a conscious step, fully present with all you senses wide awake and open?
Pura Vida!
Nicole Heimann
CPCC, Executive Coach
(*) Mikael Csíkszentmihályi outlines in his work, his theory that people are most happy when they are in a state of flow— a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. It is a state in which we are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.
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One Response to A jungle lesson in presence

  1. Cristina says:

    What a great lesson to learn and beautifully taken the example out of a holiday period. This is leadership and the world needs more of that

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