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Progress at the macro, Presence in the micro

A beautiful butterfly in the vastness of a giant forest.

We're much like this beautiful butterfly in a vast forest.

Most of us are very good at being active and moving fast. All of our lives, we’ve been trained for this. First it was school, then college, then career and a busy family life. We move all week long from thing to thing and are often left feeling exhausted at the end of it all. We’re trained from a young age that constant activity, achievement and ‘doing’ are what make us worthy beings.

This dynamic is further fueled by one of the dominant beliefs of our culture -

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re going backwards?”

From the vantage point of business and career, this belief can ring very true however it can fuel constant restlessness and frustration if we apply it wholly to the rest of our lives.

I recognize that change is the only constant in this World and that we need to adapt and grow with it. There is some hard truth here. Certainly if we become stale in our careers, in how we serve our customers, in how we relate with each other, we stop growing and our careers, business and relationships eventually perish.

However, it’s important to discern that movement alone doesn’t equal progress. And that we need not imbue the moment to moment experience of our lives with an imperative for constant movement.

movement alone doesn’t equal progress

We can have lots of movement all day long, pushing things from one place to another and yet nothing truly beneficial happens for ourselves or others around us. In this dynamic, we lose our connection with the true essence of life - PRESENCE.

After all, THIS MOMENT is all you’ll ever experience. Not the past or the future. We may think about the past or the future but that thinking occurs in the present moment. This present moment forms our entire experience of life yet many of us constantly find ourselves away from it because we’re either reflecting on the past or projecting into the future. There’s nothing wrong with doing either as long as we do it consciously. It’s when we unconsciously get swept by our thought currents that our experience of life becomes purely shaped by our thinking patterns.

So let’s create some space to question the belief - “If you’re not moving forward, you’re going backwards?”

  • Are we really going backwards if we’re not constantly moving forward?

  • Do we lose our self-worth if we become STILL and stop moving for sometime?

  • Do we become less compassionate, joyful and happy if we slow down?

I find the exact opposite to be true in my experience.

It’s often when I slow down that I come into contact with that which truly matters. Being compassionate and receptive in my daily communication, an awesome or difficult conversation with a client, playing with the kids in the evening or cooking with family are best experienced when I slow down and really connect with what’s present in that moment. It’s when we slow down and feel the moment, the subtlety of communication, the scent, sights and sounds that enriches our experience of life. Rushing through these moments instead is often what lowers the quality of our life experience.

Another popular belief of our culture, though less practiced in my opinion, is

“Go slow to go fast”.

These two beliefs are a bit contradictory, right? One tells us to keep moving and the other one to slow down.

Which one should you believe? In my experience BOTH are necessary for real progress to occur but it’s not easy to integrate them together.

So instead, in our lives what if we anchored towards 1) Progress at the macro level AND 2) Presence in the micro level? Let me explain.

1) Progress at the macro AND 2) Presence in the micro

We cultivate progress at the macro by stating a clear desire for an outcome that’s meaningful and important for ourselves i.e. real progress / forward movement in life.

For example, perhaps you want to get promoted or become a better presenter, speaker or manage difficult conversations with more grace.


We cultivate presence in the micro by slowing down, taking a deep breath, becoming aware of our body and cultivating moment to moment awareness of and connection with our life experience. For example, in a given moment, are we fully aware of how we feel, what we sense, the sights, sounds and smells that are present and greatly influence our experience?

Eating your next meal is a great time to experience being present in the micro. Can you taste each and every bite of food with full presence, sensing the various tastes, texture and smells that are present?

How are these related?

To create real progress at the marco level of our life, we need to be able to slow down enough in the micro of our day to day experience to really recognize and reflect on where we’re going.

Only then do we have the opportunity to question and reorient towards that which matters most.

For example, we can choose to slow down in the micro to ask some powerful questions and reflect.

  • Is what I’m focusing on contributing to REAL progress in my life? Is it bringing more joy, love and happiness into my life?

  • How are others experiencing me? Am I creating greater success for myself and others around me?

  • If I fast forward to the end of my life and look back, would I be proud of where I’m heading?

If your answer to these questions is YES, Congratulations! Keep going!

If you answered NO, it’s time to SLOW DOWN and cultivate presence in the micro so you have the opportunity to reorient.


What resonated with you?

Is this framework a helpful way to balance the drive for progress while elevating the moment to moment quality of our lives in the present moment?

Curious to learn more? Is this something you struggle with?



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