You know that guy who somehow "lights up the room" whenever he shows up? Or you know that woman who has this way of making everything be serious and heavy all the time? Or how about that friend who makes you feel better about life just by being there?
In my work with coaching clients over the years, I've grown more and more convinced that there is a key aspect of success (in ALL arenas of life) that most of us are completely clueless about. It's called Presence. And it's highly likely that yours is heavily influencing your life right now, though you may be totally unaware of it.
What is Presence? Presence is what happens to a room full of people when you walk in. It is the impact, not of what you are doing in any given moment, but of how you are being. In colloquial parlance, it's your general "vibe." I like to call it your "microclimate"--that is, your own personal weather system that you carry with you wherever you go. Are you typically sunny? Are you stormy? Do you consistently rain on the people around you? Are you blustery or cold? Do you even have a clue?
For example, I once knew this guy (not a client), who had a terrific heart. He cared deeply for people, and regularly did things to help the people around him in practical, meaningful ways. But his microclimate consistently worked against him. His personal presence communicated aloofness and suspicion. People perceived him as perpetually critical, always looking for the error in what someone said or did--even though he rarely if ever said anything critical of anyone. As a result, he continually met with resistance with others relationally, and often (I suspect) felt isolated and lonely.
How do you suppose the people around this guy were impacted so negatively, when all he really wanted was to help them? The problem is that he was blind to his own microclimate. He failed to include--or be intentional about--the impact of his personal "vibe" on the people around him.
Being blind to your own microclimate is like going through life with your left arm possessed by the devil. You might hug someone with your right arm, and smile at them and say hello, but at the same time your bedeviled left arm punches them in the stomach and pokes them in the eye. You're clueless about what your left arm is doing (you're blind to it, remember), and so are continually confused by people's reactions to you. Why don't they get you? Why don't they open up to you, trust you, believe in you, respect you, and so on and so forth? Why, because you have a devil-possessed arm that you can't see, of course.
Your personal presence will shape your life. So what about you? Have you ever wondered what's it like to be around you? What is the general impact you have on the people who encounter you day to day? What is your general "vibe"? What is your prevailing microclimate?
Go ahead, find out: This week, humble yourself and ask this question of five different people who interact with you regularly--"What is the general vibe I bring to our relationship? What's it really like to be in relationship with me?"
By the way, if you're not ready to hear the truth, they'll know it...and they will hold back. So don't ask if you don't really want to know.
One final note: Learning about Presence is step one. Step two is learning how to be intentional about the Presence you bring to others. To learn about how to do that, click here.
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