Gravitas

Maya Angelou

A wax figure of Maya Angelou seen on display at Madame Tussauds on December 6, 2013 in New York City.

I’ve been hearing the word “gravitas” a lot lately. Gravitas – poise under pressure, strength of character, self-esteem, confidence. It’s described as hard to define but visible to the naked eye. And, there’s debate about whether it can be learned or if it’s just part of the package – (or not).

Often I work with people to build what’s called in my world “executive presence.” And according to author Sylvia Ann Hewlett and research by the Center for Talent Innovation, the biggest contributor to mastering executive presence is developing gravitas.

In my experience, a key part of the equation is that word confidence. Yet we’ve all known people whose seeming over-confidence was a turn-off. So what’s the relationship between presence  (executive or otherwise) and confidence?

Confidence might be a prerequisite for external presence, the thing that attracts and influences others. Is that surprising? Let’s look at what destroys our ability to show up, focus on the matter at hand, listen and respond.

  • We are not present when we worry. Worry is almost always a condition of projecting the past onto the future, or simply making up stories of what the future might hold. Presence means we embody “now,” confident that the past has passed, and the future holds promise – within our creative control.
  • We are not externally present when we’re feeling negative emotions. People who have strong external presence can fluidly move from an emotional state to an objective state. The stamina to step outside and look in surely requires the confidence to trust what we might see.
  • We are not present when we are focused solely on ourselves, unless we happen to be alone and without any other inputs. It takes confidence to face whatever inputs show up.

In a post on The Spirited Woman, Pam Hale wrote a beautiful tribute to Maya Angelou. This woman embodied the word gravitas.

Can we learn to muster more of it? Oh yes, if Angelou could, we simply must.


This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a blogger. Enjoy it!

 

Be in Joy (2014)

Andrea Chilcote

by Andrea Chilcote

Please join Andrea, as she reflects back to her 2012 holiday season experience sharing her timeless suggestion to simply step into the moment at hand and enjoy it! 

This is a season to celebrate love and compassion for all. It’s the time we pause to notice the simple joys of connecting with one another. Isn’t it?

Everywhere I go, people say “It’s such a busy time.” But why are we busy to the point of being stressed out?  I think it’s because our lives have no room for error – (consider the impact of a head cold or a flat tire) – and then the “holidays” come along, with gatherings to attend, gifts to prepare and greetings to write, and we’re over the top.

I don’t have any answers about how to make day-to-day life more manageable. (At least not today). But one thing I do know is this. It’s up to you to either enjoy this time or suffer through it. My suggestion? Enjoy. Be in joy.

Today was one of those busy days for me. When at last I was free to relax on the hiking trail with my friend and two dogs, I felt just a bit of guilt, knowing how many things I had to do. But if there’s one place I can quickly focus on the moment at hand and enjoy it, it’s my desert trails.

We had been walking for some time, letting the dogs choose the path. Suddenly my friend, who was ahead of me, said, “I’ll give you that hug now.” Earlier, I had sent her today’s “Note From The Universe,” which had advised me that one of the secrets to peace and joy is to give more hugs. I’ve never been one to hug a lot, so I don’t know what possessed me. The season perhaps?

Before I could reach my friend, my dog Kairos jumped up, embracing her in a hug around her waist. Kairos is a hugger, though I did not know his vocabulary was this advanced. I am proud of his obedience accomplishments, but had no idea he would respond to a hug request this quickly. It was an unexpected joy. The whole thing made me pause and try to experience the moment with all my senses. The desert sunset, the chill in the air and the spirit of the season. Enjoyment.

So, here’s my lesson, and one I’ll offer you. In these next days, when you make a choice to spend your time visiting, shopping, decorating or something else, do it with passion and presence. Step into the experience at hand and enjoy it. Be in joy.


This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a blogger.