How to Be Present for Your Business

The ability, some might say attempt, to multitask is a curse of sorts. While working on ten things at once may seem efficient, each of those things gets roughly 10% of our greatness while we’re doing it.

That may actually be fine for, say, deleting emails, but is that enough for writing a note to a client, creating an action plan for a product launch or determining the fee you plan to charge for a project? Probably not.

Attention is one of our scarcest resources these days and guarding it in a way that allows us to work with intention requires the ability to remain present and mindful in the midst of the storm raging all around us. (Otherwise known as your business)

In fact, it not only requires us to be as present as possible for the daily tasks we tackle, it also requires us to be continually mindful of where we are going and why we are going there and that requires a process of its own.

Planned Mindfulness

It’s one thing to conduct annual strategic planning sessions and quite another to live the intention of those sessions after the white boards are erased.

I believe that you need to create a daily routine that involves revisiting your greatest goals and objectives and developing what I’ve come to call a passion mantra that upon seeing, hearing or reading energizes you and snaps you back into a state of mindfulness.

Creating your passion mantra may require time sitting and writing about what matters most to you, what drives you, what motivates you, what scares you and what excites you, but if you can create a simple statement that helps hold you accountable for what you intend to do, you’ll have a tool that consistently inspires right action and keeps you out of the act of wallowing in self-pity and doubt.

I’ve shared my own personal passion mantra before and I’ll share it here, but know that these are merely words and their real power if the feeling I attach to them.

My mantra is: My life is an amazing adventure; my business is an amazing adventure.

Witness Your Thoughts

Another habit that you may need to form in order to work steadily towards the intention of your business is to actually start to pay attention to your thoughts and reactions throughout the day.

Frankly, this can be exhausting work, but if you can begin to step back and analyze how your mind unconsciously processes everything that happens throughout the day, you might start to get a glimpse into some of the negative and limiting ways we view things as either good or bad.

The problem with most of reactions to things is they don’t always serve our overall objectives. If your intention is to be a business that provides incredible value by helping your customers achieve their goals, you’ll find that giving more than you take is the surest path to success. However, if your first thought in most relationships is what’s in it for me, or I’ve got to watch my back, you’ve got some powerful forces working against you.

How we view things is simply a choice, but that choice can become so ingrained that we no longer even make it, it simply occurs out of habit. When we start to slow down and observe these choices as they are happening, we gain the power to make or not make them in accordance with our driving intention.

Present Actfullness

Our intentions drive our thoughts and our thoughts form our actions. That’s what makes planning, goal setting and mindful thinking so powerful. However, there are armies lined up and waiting to derail you from your path to success – some come in the form of your own thoughts and others come in the form of an evil printer that won’t work as advertised.

In addition to witnessing how your thoughts create and form your reality, you must develop habits that help you change your physical state and bring it intentionally into being present along with your thoughts.

This is the easy part. Develop routines that require you to stop your work hourly and do ten pushups or take a lap around your office building. Fill up a jug of water and empty it hourly. Take a fifteen-minute afternoon nap. Write a handwritten thank you note several times a day.

What you do physically isn’t as important as the act of stopping and bringing your awareness back into the room by removing your attention from all the tasking at hand. I find that the simplest of planned physical mindfulness, even intentional breathing has the power to center me.

Present for Customers

So, really the point of all of this mindfulness is to help you build a better business that delivers value to world and less stress to you in the process, but the practical side is that it will allow you to be present for your customers and that will pay off immediately.

We all like to think we have our customers needs and desires in mind at all times, but quite often we get caught up in attempts to appear to have all the answers, in stating our case rather than listening, or in feigning care when our real motivation is the sale.

You can’t be fully present in every client interaction, but occasionally, maybe systematically, you need to look your clients in the eye, in a way that lets them feel you are listening, and ask them how you could help them more – and then shut up and listen without judgment. My guess is you will find this incredibly rewarding.

Present for Staff

In the midst of the day-to-day rush of projects, tasks, questions and actions the real development of the people that work all around you can get lost.

Meetings are scheduled and conducted with to dos and takeaways in mind and are often seen mostly as something in the way of getting your real work done.

Again, you can’t be fully mindful in every interaction with your staff, but in order to create an environment where your people can participate in the fulfillment of the organization’s objectives, you must provide a way for them to be heard as well.

Once a week, put 30 minutes on your calendar with everyone that reports to you and make them own the agenda. There may be times when several agenda items revolve around projects, but there will be times when you simply listen to what they really want out of life and how you can help them get there – and I believe that may be one of the most rewarding gifts you can participate in giving.

So, this being present stuff isn’t for the timid, but if you’ve ever come home and night and couldn’t really tell your spouse what you did all day that made you so busy, there’s a pretty good bet you need to dig into this a bit.

Image credit: SirPecanGum via Flickr CC

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Tom McCallum

    Love this blog. Have followed your blogs and site for a long time (background in online marketing), but as a Shirlaws Business Coach, your thoughts around being present and mindfulness very much resonate with me as areas that a) I practice myself, and b) I help my clients with.

    As I often say : “there is no such thing as multi-tasking, only time-slicing”. 

    As a client’s team member said recently, of the client’s addiction to being on the smartphone all the time “even when you have a one to one with them, it isn’t a one to one” (ie still checking the smartphone).

    • ducttape

      I think we’ve sort of become attuned to it as well. People don’t think it’s rude to check while talking and we talk right through it as though they are listening.

  • Barbara

    I love the clarity of your message re multi-tasking. Do 10 things at once, each gets 10% attention. And you bare so right about mindfulness being exhausting. It’s surprising how hard it is justvto pay attention to the present and tune out all the noise. Thanks for a great post.

    • ducttape

      You know I think it gets less exhausting with practice – kind of like running – you get better at it and you stop struggling with it and the noise.

  • Ted Paff

    Great post John!  As a mindfulness practitioner, I couldn’t agree more with your points.  There is a lot that the practice can teach about being present for our customers, employees and partners.  

    • ducttape

      If you’re not familiar check out the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh and his Plum Village

  • Ryan Hanley


    I really like the concept of Planned Mindfulness.  I’m am definitely a criminal when it comes to stealing my own attention with multiply tasks.  I’m going to let Planned Mindfulness sink in a little.  


    Ryan H.

    • ducttape

      You that old squeaky wheel – some days it seems like the squeaky 18 wheeler is running through the office – that’s why the planned part is such a big deal.

  • Henry Louis

    Hi John! I like this blog. Good informative post.

  • Teddy

    Really like the straightforward suggestions in your article  I liked the part about developing a personal passionate mantra for yourself. I like yours because it gives energy to why your are doing what you are doing.

    Thanks for ideas