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Frequently when I am coaching leaders on developing executive presence, I notice that they are not settled or grounded in their body. Sometimes this appears as fidgeting or restlessness. It also may seem that they are exuding excess nervous energy. Though there’s no actual sound, there is a palpable sense of unfocused energy noise. With some leaders, the simple suggestion that they take a moment to center themselves quiets the noise. Others ask, “What does that mean?” “How do I do that?” “Centering? I have no idea what you are talking about.” This Leadership Reflection introduces a centering practice using a target. You can use this practice to quiet your thoughts and nervous energy and strengthen your presence. I have been using this practice as part of my daily yoga practice, and find that when I am feeling stressed or out of my comfort zone, I can visualize my target and quickly regain my center.

Picture This

Practicing Yoga on a lakeside dock is lovely, and at times, challenging. It is lovely to see puffy white clouds passing overhead in a blue sky. Lovely to feel the warm breeze of a summer day. Lovely to hear the gentle lapping of waves against the rocks. Lovely to smell the scent of pine and peppermint.

Even when the lake is as smooth as glass, with only the slightest motion of ripples in the water, balancing poses become challenging. It’s tempting to think that the movement will topple you, and when thinking that, it actually may. Grounding your body and then finding a target in the distance can serve as an anchoring point for your eyes. With that, you can direct your gaze to the target and connect yourself to a space that is bigger. You can look beyond the movement of the water surrounding you, and flow with the shaking of the dock under your feet rather than falling from it.

There are continuous ripples in the water of your day. Some are barely noticeable that you need do nothing about. Some are big splashes that threaten to knock you down, off your game. Committing to a regular centering practice can help you stay grounded, calm and responsive to whatever comes your way. Here’s a simple centering practice you can try right now:

Practice – Centering Using a Target

Stand up tall with your weight balanced on both feet and your arms relaxed. Soften your eyes and rest your gaze on a target in the distance. This can be something outside, or something you can see outside a window, such as tree, a building, mountain. It can also be something in your office such as an object, a picture, or a person or object in a picture.

  • Release any holding or tension in your body

  • Open up and create more space within you

  • Connect with your target

  • Breathe

  • Feel anchored and centered in your mind and body

  • Feel quiet inside

  • Notice the ripples and splashes of your day

  • When you notice you are drifting away from center, connect with your target and move back into your bigger space-firm, safe

  • Watch the ripples and waves of your day glide over you and gracefully roll with them

Access your target whenever you feel that you’re not on solid ground.

Note: You may also do this practice seated comfortably in a chair, with both feet on the floor and your arms resting on the arms of the chair. Also try using this practice with a partner by taking turns reading it aloud to each other.

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