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A Priceless Gift
March 9, 2020
A beautifully wrapped package has just been placed in your hands. It's covered in fine paper and tied with gold-threaded twine with a sprig of fresh cut greenery.
You pause to take in the presentation of this unknown gift, humbled that someone finds you worthy and deserving of such meticulous detail.
This gift wasn't hastily stuffed into a used gift bag with crinkled tissue, as you've done for so many others because of your busy nature.
As you carefully unwrap the gift, a scent of sweet pine from the stem of evergreen reaches your nose. Inside, a small white box reveals its contents: a piece of paper with the word "time" written in black marker.
You look up, bewildered. "Is this a joke?" you ask.
"No. I've heard you say many times you wish you 'had more time'and' there's never enough time.'So, I'm giving you the gift of time. You will have a whole day-- 24 extra hours-- to use how you want."
I'm willing to bet this wasn't how you experienced February 29, Leap Day.
As an executive coach, the one complaint I hear most from every level of an organization is there's not enough time. Today, we have more demand on time and not enough hours to accommodate the demand.
This is exactly why the gift metaphor makes sense for Leap Day. We're rarely given extra hours. But every 4 years, we are GIVEN an extra day! We don't have to do anything to earn it. Technically speaking, Leap Day happens so that our calendar year tracks closely to the rotation of the earth around the sun (365.24 days to be exact).
Take a moment and reflect on how you spent your "bonus day" on February 29. Did you treat it as a precious gift? Did you spend part of your day engaging in a favorite hobby or activity? Or maybe, enjoy time with a dear friend you don't see often?
If you didn't-- then this is for you.
I'll share a power move to help you get more satisfaction and better results from your time. Time will become a gift to be appreciated and not mindlessly squandered. You're likely to experience time expanding rather than contracting. Sound good?
How you ask? It's the power of INTENTION. Intention means that you know WHAT you're doing, WHY you're doing it and HOW you want to show up.
By bringing intention to everything you do (team meetings, sales pitches, conversations with your boss, lunch with a friend, or a first date) you bring a level of clarity, focus and purpose that wasn't there before. At least not consciously.
There are 3 steps to bring the power of intention to everything you do.
Warning: Do not skip or rush this step. What follows has little value without a well-done pause. The goal is to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, a counterbalance to the all-to-frequent "fight-or-flight" response of the sympathetic nervous system. You can do this with deep breathing techniques. Breathe in through your nose, allowing the belly to rise, and exhale slowly out your mouth. Aim to make your exhales twice as long as the inhale.
Once you've activated your body's relaxation response in step #1, you can think more clearly and have access to greater insight. You want to ask yourself:
A. Why am I doing this?
B. Why is it important to me?
C. What outcome do I want?
D. How do I want to show up?
The clarity from step #2 orients you around a central purpose and grounds you in calm confidence. When we rush to the next thing on our calendar, we bring the scattered energy with us. No one is at their best when this happens. This step helps to ensure you show up in a way that brings your best, most authentic self forward.
What if you regarded EVERY day as a precious gift?
Through the activation of the power of intention and these three steps, you are capable of transforming your day from hectic and mind-numbing to purposeful and impactful. And that gift is priceless.
Links to learn more cool science about activating your parasympathetic nervous system:
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