dandelion clock image
dandelion clock image
focusing on the moment

One of the concepts I was introduced to in my MBA programme was the time value of money, but I have recently taken this concept one step further by recognizing the importance of the value of…well time, being present and focusing on the current moment.

Before I go into the subject in greater depth, I will write about my English lessons in the past week.
Words I have learned:
  • apparently, the only “proper” version of English is the British version. American spelling is just plain stupid – so be very careful of you happen to be an American living in London and your use of the letter “z”;
  • the “correct” pronunciation of the letter “z” is “zed” (I may or may not be rolling my eyes here);
  • commonly used adjectives also have a completely different meaning over here, for example:

 – smart – does not mean really intelligent, it means: professionally dressed,

– brilliant – also doesn’t mean really intelligent, it means: really funny,

– fit – doesn’t mean that someone works out a lot, it means: physically attractive.
I also had an ENTIRE lesson on what it meant to be an adolescent boy growing up in England. You weren’t considered cool by your ability to get girls, but by your sense of humor (or humour if spelled properly and yes, I am still rolling my eyes) and your ability to not be a “whipping boy” – someone who is bullied
If I am to be completely honest with you – January has actually been a pretty tough month. It might have been the fact that I had holidays in my home country and then had to re-acclimate to a different time zone. My work project kicked up another notch (one of these days I will tell you guys more about it). Then I had to get adjusted to the British grading system (where 70/100 is considered really good, a distinction) and took my first Finance-based assessment  (Finance being my weakest link).

I often found myself really stressed with limited sleep, struggling to focus on the task at hand because I was so worried about all of the things that I had coming up. Despite everything, I have been so grateful for people who have been present. I’ve had numerous people check in and make sure I was OK. I have been reassigned to a new mentor at school with whom I am incredibly excited to work, I’ve been invited to be a part of a Developmental Circle at work and have a mentor through the publishing company as well. So there have just been some pretty incredible moments, despite my struggles.

The most recent example happened last week.
I was on campus for my Board Mindset Module and we were studying Crisis Management. At one point we were all going to be given a crisis situation with about 30 seconds preparation time to present a resolution. So, not a lot a time. I may or may not have mentioned this but I am NOT a fan of public speaking. I feel really proud of myself every time I do it, however the thought of it does not fill me with joy. I thought I was going to be able to avoid this particular exercise when our professor/new MBA Director asked if there was anyone “who was particularly nervous/challenged by public speaking.”
My stomach dropped. I knew I had to give it a go. I knew I had to push myself, and my entire MBA family did as well. When I sighed and stood up, the room applauded. I hadn’t even presented yet! They were just applauding my courage to tackle the fear.
MBA class preparation, University of Westminster
MBA class preparation, University of Westminster, International Blogger
My crisis situation involved a sudden death in the company and I had to address the executive team and announce an interim plan of action. As I was getting ready to present (and freaking out), the Acting Head of the Leadership and Development  “happened” to walk by. She came up to me, put her hands on my shoulders and said “you are going to do great.” That moment was incredible. She gave me an infinite amount of support by both her words and her actions. I went in the room still nervous, of course, but grateful for that boost.
 Being present
I thanked her via email and she responded with the following:
“What I did on the corridor is an illustration of what ‘being present‘ means. When you are in the moment with all your senses you notice what needs doing or who needs help. In this state you are able to tune into the needs of a person/a situation and do what is most helpful. For me, it is almost automatic when I am truly centered, when I am not, I miss valuable opportunities. I do not always get it right and I always regret when I am not truly present. It gets better with practice.”
I loved this because it shows that we are all human. We can’t “be always present”. But what we can always strive to be the best version of ourselves and recognise that everything can be an opportunity.
This month has been about re-enforcing that. I know that I often get in my own way by my thinking habits.  It is easy to say you are going to let things go, but not quite so easy to do it.
 January wasn’t bad after all as it showed me, the value of truly being present and focusing on the here and now. More soon.
Maria Vandenburg
Maria Vandenburg

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