Living in the present is the best way to navigate, meet and experience life. This means not living in the past (yesterday), not projecting into the future, not having a hidden agenda and not attaching yourself to any story you or someone else has created.
Our personal stories grow out of the labels we have -- I'm a father, a veteran, poor, a Harvard grad, etc. -- which is what we create and walk around with that defines our actions. And our agendas are tightly woven with our personal stories.
When we consistently open ourselves up to new possibilities, stay open to new trajectories and discover new solutions, we stay fine-tuned to the nuances of life and its many opportunities and challenges. Being in the present will keep us safe and happier.
The question is this: how do you know whether you're in the present? Have you ever crafted your response while someone else was still talking? Whoops. And how about feeling like you were being talked at instead of being heard? Welcome to not being present. With agendas come blinders to seeing what's really going on.
Ask yourself the following question: "Am I willing to let go of my hidden agenda?"
Our agendas outline what we hope to get out of various situations. If you're willing to let them go, you are living in the present. If you're not, you're hiding.
The truth is that your hidden agenda is not really hidden. Whether you realize it or not, your hidden agenda is just as visible as, if not more than, your to-do agenda that you walk into a meeting carrying. So why bother?
I admit that at first it may not be an easy question to answer honestly. Or that you may not like the answer you get if you do answer honestly. So here's a little help with that. If the answer to the question is "No," then the investment in your current story is greater than the desire to create a new one. By staying with the old story, we can't be fully in the present. And by not being fully in the present, we miss out on possibilities and opportunities.
Consider the hermit crab. At some point it grows. It needs a new shell, a bigger one. In between the old home and the new one there is a period where the tiny little crab is completely exposed, vulnerable, a tasty, tender, shell-less morsel for some bird of prey or other hungry creature who is simply trying to get ahead and stay alive.
So what could possibly prompt the little crab to leave its safe haven and expose itself in such a risky way? Possibility. The possibility of more life.
The stories we create for our lives, the stories that are created for us, the stories that attach to our old stories, keep us in the past and can determine our future. We outgrow our stories every day. If we are in the present, we go in search of a new story every day.
However, be forewarned. As we get ready to leave our shells, our emotions naturally heighten at the prospect of leaving the familiar and the possibility, no matter how remote, of impending danger in the unfamiliar. At that moment, it's easy to disconnect. That's when you can whip out the question, "What if I had no hidden agenda?" That question will keep you connected to what's at hand.
Changing the status quo happens when you have no hidden agenda. Changing the status quo is necessary to get and stay ahead.
Meeting the status quo with no hidden agenda is where the new tools are found to keep yourself -- and your story -- fresh and your edges sharp so we can navigate the space between the old and the new. Between the familiar and the unexplored.
At some point we have to meet the new without an agenda to be able to truly see all the possibilities. Look at something you're facing right now. Can you see a hidden agenda, and what are the possibilities available without it?