The worst experience for me as a parent is when my child says to me, “Put your phone away.” Like many people in today’s hyper-connected business world, I don’t want to miss a beat in knowing what’s happening around me. My phone pulls at me constantly with emails, tweets, alerts and meeting invites.
Today’s business world, even in the laid-back business culture of Colorado’s mountain communities, creates an environment where we feel the need to constantly check email messages or to check in with the office. We have all been out in a social setting with a group of friends when someone pulls out their phone to check messages. There are even challenges where everyone has to put their phone in the middle of the table and the first person to check a message has to pick up the dinner tab.
And that’s in a social (i.e., non-work oriented) setting. It’s even worse in a work setting. We have all experienced a meeting when someone starts drifting from the content of the meeting and begins checking social media or email messages. My 7-year-old could make a living attending business meetings, surveying the room and scolding people by saying, “Put your phone away.”
Business lessons sometimes come from the mouths of innocent children. Make no mistake, “putting your phone away” is a powerful business lesson. It’s a powerful statement because it hits home. But what does it really mean? I don’t think it’s about a phone.
I was fortunate enough to be in a recent meeting facilitated by Bob Vanourek — Vail Valley local and author of “Triple Crown Leadership” — and was reminded of the need to “be present.” Being present in a business context is not focusing on the past or on the future, but rather focusing on what is happening now.
This resonated with me and I think it is the real meaning behind “put your phone away.”
In these days of endless distractions and short attention spans, the advice to “be present” is not only priceless but also relevant. It’s what your kids are really trying to express when they say “put your phone away.” And it applies perfectly to doing business.
As business leaders, we know how to make things happen and we like to think we are the people who will work tirelessly to get it done. These leaders need to focus on execution and getting things done — and in order to do so, they also need to be present.
As business leaders, we help our team grow and we provide resources to help reach both our business and professional goals. These leaders help others, take charge of situations and are constantly selling the merits of their organization — and in order to do so, they need to be present.
As business leaders, we work to create groups and organizations that are much greater than the sum of their parts. These leaders focus on holding a team together and building a team that is greater than the sum of its parts — and in order to do so, they need to be present.
As business leaders, we are focused on the future, providing a vision to our teams and our organizations. These leaders focus on what could be and provide new perspectives — and in order to do so, they need to be present.
As business leaders, we are engaged in helping to grow not only our business entity and our staff, but our communities and nonprofits. These are our community leaders, helping to build a sense of place — and in order to do so, they need to be present.
As business leaders, it’s important to be present. Or as my 7-year-old would say, “Put your phone away.”
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.
We have all been out in a social setting with a group of friends when someone pulls out their phone to check messages.