When I was in school, I remember having teachers that would do a roll call each morning to take attendance. While this was customary for the first few weeks of the school year (or semester) until the instructor learned everyone’s name, I had some teachers (and even professors in college) that would do this every day. I remember one teacher insisting that we say “present” versus “here” or, as many of my classmates would say, “yup.” I found this to be pointless but looking back, there was a benefit to it (especially by saying “present”).
But before we get to that point, let me share a story. Earlier this evening I was doing my workout and I noticed I just wasn’t into it. While my body was there exercising, my mind was elsewhere — thinking about three people I needed to get back to regarding dates for speeches, fretting about the fact that my blog has been down for over three days and thinking of ideas for a seminar that’s coming up in a few weeks. I was doing cardio so I wasn’t focusing on how my body was moving and with most exercise, if you’re using bad form, you lose most (if not all) of the benefit of the exercise and in some cases, it can cause damage.
This happens everywhere. People are physically driving their cars but their minds are on the phone (or worse, texting) and therefore are driving slow and in some cases, causing an accident. Parents sit at the dinner table with their families but their minds are still at the office or on the golf course.
The same holds true in the business world. If you’re on a call with a customer but your mind is elsewhere, you’re not listening like you should be. This could result in you missing key information needed to close a sale or in offending the client because you weren’t paying attention to them.
The bottom line is that if your mind is not where your body is, you’re not performing effectively or efficiently. Yes, we live in a world that thrives on multi-tasking but we also live in a world where a half-hearted effort doesn’t cut it. Often, you need to perform strong and that requires you to be present: both mind and body.
So getting back to the story of my teachers, there’s a point in them asking you to answer to roll call and especially in you answering “present.” It serves as a reminder — that you are in that particular classroom and not in your next class or out playing sports. When you’re present and focused, you’re more likely to succeed. When your mind is elsewhere, you’re more likely to make mistakes. So next time you catch your mind elsewhere, sit (or stand) up straight and answer “present.”
James Feudo owns the Boston Web Design Agency JVF Solutions and loves blogging about personal development and communication in his spare time.