Okay, this blog is going to be 100% honest and probably a bit uncomfortable, but I believe there is immense value in it. Here goes nothing…
Not long ago, my wife, Reka, and I were experiencing some challenges. When we went out to dinner, my eyes occasionally wandered. Sometimes, I received dirty looks if I took an inappropriately long time going to the restroom. I always tried to be discreet, but the frequency of my wandering gaze was increasing. I was becoming audacious – and this did not go unnoticed by Reka. I could see the pain in her eyes and hear the frustration in her voice.
Over time, this escalated. I tried convincing her that if she could just be a bit more open-minded, this could benefit us in the future. It finally reached a point where Reka became downright snippy about it. I would hear comments like “I see you brought her with you today” and “Is she joining us for dinner?”
I would come up with excuses that “her” joining us was related to work, or that “she” was needed to ensure our happy future. As much as I rationalized and defended myself, Reka never bought it.
There was no question, when the three of us were together, I invested most of my intention towards “her” – not towards Reka. This was becoming a real issue.
If you are wondering who “she” was, I will tell you. “She” was my smartphone. Whenever “she” was with me, I felt her vibrate in my pocket, pulling my attention away. When I visited the men’s room, I scanned and returned emails, texts, and sometimes made phone calls.
Something needed to change.
After discussing this with a friend, he challenged me to start leaving my phone in the car when we went to dinner together. Now, I am very important (kidding!) and I need to allow people to contact me at a moment’s notice. The reality is no one has expected such a speedy response. I am not an on-call doctor and lives certainly weren’t hanging on a limb. I guess I am not that important after all. If I wait a couple hours or even until tomorrow to get back with them, everything will still be fine. In fact, when people heard about leaving “her” in the car, it was typically respected. This singular step has had a majorly positive impact on our date nights and quality time. Truth be told, this happened many years ago, but the lesson remains the same today.
I still occasionally forget or slip into bad habits. In the era of COVID, we smile when we are told to scan a QR code for the menu and neither of us has a phone. The server is usually baffled at how that is possible…and yet, they have always been able to find a paper alternative.
The next time you are having dinner or spending time with your loved ones or friends, I would encourage you to take a moment to observe how many folks are not truly engaged with the present, but instead, are focused on “her” or “him.”
The simple gesture of being present is one of the greatest gifts you can give anyone, whether it is a spouse, partner, child, friend, employee, or customer.
If you want to provide a competitive advantage to your business, friendship, and home life, stop letting your eyes wander and be present!