I got prematurely pumped up and paid the price. I was asked to give a presentation to six-hundred people and had a month to prepare for it. This was an audience of potential clients, and every entrepreneur’s dream. So, I spent the month smoothing my presentation, practicing my delivery, perfecting spontaneous humor, and finding the perfect suit, shoes and hairstyle.
My haircut ended up making me look a lot like Martina Navratilova, and my new shoes rubbed blisters on my heels as I walked through the airport on the way to the convention center. By the time I took the stage, I was so exhausted and uncomfortable I exuded anything but energy. Martina would not have been proud.
Sometimes, I am so focused on preparing for the future that I fail to pay attention to what is right in front of me. I’m sure that’s why I had five concussions before the age of nine – that, and the fact that my older sister was trying to kill me. In her defense, I was a little annoying.
Even as an adult, I have a tendency to run into walls and posts and people on a regular basis, because my mind is flipping through a potential photo album of the future rather than watching that last step on the stairway.
I wonder what faces, and smiles, and messages I have missed along the way.
Today, I focused on one person . . .
My waitress asked what drink I wanted this morning, and I mumbled “Dr. Pepper” as I stared at my phone. She asked for my breakfast order, and I told her what I wanted while writing down some ideas for another book. Finally, I looked up and noticed her across the room. Her usually bright, happy face didn’t look so shiny today. As she approached, I put down my phone, and my book ideas, and I paid attention to her.
“How are you? How is school?” I asked, remembering a previous conversation about college, which pleased me since my memory goes cold about as quickly as the scrambled eggs that were on my plate.
“It’s not good,” she said. “I work constantly and have been in school forever because I’m working my way through it and I’m tired.”
“I understand completely,” I said. “I worked three jobs in college and didn’t pay off my student loans until my forties.” And we spent a moment talking about how to stay motivated and powered up. My one piece of advice came through me rather than from me:
“This sounds corny, but take it one day at a time. What exhausts us are the ‘what if’s’ and the ‘how am I going to’ stories. Don’t worry about tomorrow, just get through today. And that’s it. Now get out of here before I tell you that today is a gift and that’s why it’s called the present.”
We laughed, and I looked into her eyes. They were smiling.
If you really want to feel power, check out the face in front of you. . .
Look into someone’s eyes. Study their expression. There’s something in faces that is so much bigger than the skin containing it.
Try not to stare too long at strangers, because that can get creepy and result in a call to the police. Start with the people in your life who are making the daily journey with you. Look at your wife, or your husband, or your children, or your best friend. Too often, they get the least amount of our focused attention.
Look to see if their souls are tired, or happy, or relaxed, or relieved.
Pay attention to the face in the mirror. Not to find that facial flaw or to check for food in your teeth, but to gaze into your own eyes. See where your soul is today. You’ll be surprised at the depth and potential you’ll find.
I find my most powerful moments emerge from a sense of complete and total focus — on the day, the place, the moment, and the face.
As I look into anyone’s eyes, including mine, it seems like all of eternity is behind them just waiting for our fears to subside.
And therein lies the power.