Tool One: Bring Yourself to Present-Moment Awareness

Tightrope Walker

The past few weeks have brought another series of crises around the world. Hurricanes, shootings, wildfires, politics, and nuclear insecurity.

Events like these can distract us from our priorities and make us churn inside. So the first three steps of Inner Leadership are to Centre, Ground, and Connect Deeply with ourselves.

Chapter 1 provides three tools that enable us to Centre. The first and simplest of these is to bring ourselves to present-moment awareness.

Present-moment awareness is about becoming aware of what is actually happening in the here and now. Rock climbers and tightrope walkers are good at this. Their ability to focus completely in the present-moment (both inside their bodies and around them) is critical to obtaining good results.

By training ourselves to return to present-moment awareness we prepare ourselves for the next step, which is to ‘Ground’ into our best version of ourselves before we then turn to face events.

To practice present-moment awareness, think of a recent event that upset you, that made you churn inside. Remember what happened and how you felt. Recreate those feelings now and build them up as strongly as you can. Notice what you are thinking and feeling. Maybe make a note.

Now shift your focus outwards, and remember what was actually happening around you at the time. Describe it.

Now ask yourself, was there something that was happening then that was causing your feelings or were you creating the inner churning for yourself? Were you remembering something that had happened in the past (as you are now) or were you imagining something that might happen in the future?

If you were remembering the past or imagining the future, the tools of Chapter 2 will help you to make sense of and manage this.

But for now, come back to your body and focus on your breath. Slow it down. Take a deep breath, slowly release it. Then another.

Notice what you are feeling in your body now. What would you call these feelings? Where in your body are you feeling them? Have the feelings reduced?

Now focus on what is happening around you now. Describe it to yourself.

By focusing on what is happening (in you and around you) now, and by naming it, you shift your focus and begin to gain control over your feelings. Two more tools in the ‘Centre’ section of Chapter 1 will then enable you to release those feelings so that you are ready to ‘Ground’ into the best version of yourself and turn to face events.


Do you naturally spend most of your time in present-moment awareness? Or are you easily distracted by events that have happened in the past or that might happen in the future? Would it be useful for you to shift this? What about the members of your team? Is it causing an issue for team performance?

Adapted from Inner LeadershipBuy the Book

Photo By Noel Reynolds via

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