December 23, 2019 Katharina Janus

[PERSPECTIVE by @katharinajanus] The best present is to be present

Do you dare to make a wish? Yes, a wish. A desire or hope for something you are not sure that you will get it or that it will happen. Unconditional. Forward-looking. No back-up. Your personal wish.

I’ve been thinking about this lately as a great year comes to an end and the holiday season is in full swing. At least in the Western world we live in a time in which many wishes get fulfilled – it almost feels like an “entitlement” when you listen to children negotiating Christmas presents with their parents and threatening to move out if they do not get the newest iphone… it used to be magic to make a wish list, dreams and desires that grew from personal needs and experiences instead of complying with a status-driven adulthood society that is in constant fear of missing out (so-called FOMO).

We never had as many choices and opportunities as today and never before in the history of humankind was access and fulfilment of desires as easy as today. We tend to forget this. And we tend to take this immediate access for granted and (ab)use it. As a consequence, our senses’ ability to perceive and interact with our environment and other human beings has changed.

Of course, immediate access and technology through our mobile devices and other gadgets has made life easier and more efficient, but too often we’re “present without being present” while focusing on a screen and rubbing its surface. When I started teaching as a professor at Columbia University in 2006 I was still looking at faces of students – nowadays, as a professor, teacher or speaker you frequently face the backsides of laptops and phones and…. ”foreheads”. A student in her early twenties just mentioned to me how lucky she feels that she still grew up playing in a garden instead of on a screen….

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions. But what are these dimensions? Are they bigger, better, more efficient, richer, poorer, less or more comprehensive…. In other words: is a wealth of opportunities to choose from and the easy access to make that choice leading to a better result (whatever that maybe for each of us: happiness, performance, wealth etc.)?

J.K. Rowling said “It is our choices that show what we really are, much more than our abilities.” Aristotle put it even more precisely: “Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, and determines your destiny.”

A sincere wish is in essence a targeted choice – a desire we dare to specify and then pursue (unless we’re suffering from FOMO which often willingly prevents us from making these choices). It requires taking a risk and committing to one option and being present – here and now – for a client, your friend, your family, or the society.

This is my pledge for the year(s) to come: to be present for those we work with, we collaborate with and we have become friends with. Again, we were lucky to work with wonderful people from around the world and convene them in our forums and projects. We feel gifted that we were able to help our clients dream bigger dreams through our strategy and foresight – develop more comprehensive approaches, enter new markets or business lines. In all this activity our commitment has created a strong base of trust that we value. Of course, we search for the best options for our clients, but once committed we pursue our clients’ wishes as our own.

One caveat: In a world of limited resources, we have to re-learn that we might not get everything we wish for. The anything goes mantra of the 1990s had triggered the perception of unlimited growth and opportunities – an active culture, but also increasingly non-committal, harming trust and communication. To the contrary, a commitment may be labeled as “passive” by those who have lost the ability to choose. But in reality, it enables us to focus and to concentrate on the pursuit of that choice – your project or your wishes.

On a personal note, I’d like to encourage you to make a wish this holiday season – with the risk you won’t get it right away, but to pursue it. It’s exciting!

Be present, listen, take time, talk face-to-face…. Celebrate JOMO (the joy of missing out) because you have made a choice. It is the best present.

If we can help with any of your wishes & aspirations for 2020 please do not hesitate to be in touch and I’d be happy to explore a possible approach with you. As Nelson Mandela said: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Happy Holidays – may your wishes come true in 2020!

Sincerely,


Prof. Dr. Katharina Janus
Founder and Managing Director of the Center for Healthcare Management, Paris, France and at Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
President, ENJOY STRATEGY, Europe & US
www.centerforhealthcaremanagement.org