I have been thinking about this essay for some time, and have continued to “bump” into examples of how these three concepts, the “ Three P’s” are too often NOT executed or even considered in personal and professional contexts at times with detrimental consequences! Lets start this essay with a brief definition of each of the “Three P’s:”
“Present,” In a particular place, in attendance, here, there, nearby, available
“Presence,” The bearing, carriage, or air of a person, a noteworthy quality of poise and effectiveness.
“Prescience,” The foreknowledge of events, human anticipation of the course of events, foresight.
These three characteristics, especially in combination, can have a very effective impact in both personal and professional contexts, and equally impactful negatively when one or all three are absent. Lets explore each idea individually then review the idea of bringing all three to bear in combination.
“Present,” this idea is probably the simplest of all three but maybe the one that is most often abused. How many times have you been in a meeting, and while someone is speaking the rest of the room/audience is “multi-tasking” on their PC’s doing emails/social media/etc. While everyone was in the same room “physically,” most of the attendees were not actually “present” in the meeting underway. I was recently at a board meeting, a small and fairly intense setting with 6-7 board members seated around a table. An hour or so into the 2017 financials review it became clear that one of the board members was actively doing something on his pc and at a key point of debate with the company’s CEO, pulled his head up and asked to “go back” so that he could “catch-up” with the discussion at hand. While we did just that the first time, the same situation occurred a few hours later and I suggested that the board member should “choose” which meeting he planned to be “present in, the one in the room or the one on his PC. While a bit of a heavy hand on my part, we all refocused on the board meeting at hand and we all chose to be very “present” for the rest of the meeting!
“Presence,” This concept is more about “how” you show up in the moments or situations where you have decided to be “present.” While I don't want to explicitly reference one’s “posture”, (another “P” that might be worth it’s own essay) this does refer to how one physically and intellectually “carries” them selves. If you want to have an impact with a group in any context, one needs to pay attention, take notes, make eye contact, ask relevant questions, make appropriate connections, etc. all actions that reinforce your “presence” in the moment. It seems so simple but how many times have you seen the opposite? Think about the times that you have been with someone who “says” that they really want to know your opinion on a topic, only to not completely pay attention, take no notes, ask no questions, etc. While “present” in the moment, their “presence” contradicts their stated desire to listen and learn!
“Prescience,” this idea may be the most abstract of the “three P’s” but is a vital attribute of taking action to find success, either personally or professionally. This concept is not one of “magic” or “fortune telling,” but how do you take in all of the facts/data/evidence if the moment and turn those experiences into an approach to anticipate the future. I often find in my consulting work, if I really dig into the situation at hand, and connect it to the myriad of experiences from my past 30+ years of business experiences, I can often anticipate the challenges that my clients are facing not only today, but also in the coming months, quarters. It’s never perfect, and while I am learning a ton in this new phase of my professional life, I often find a helpful insight or two as we look at the challenges ahead.
The combination of these three ideas, the “three P’s” is where the real magic happens; a recent airport experience brought the lack of all three to a dramatic point, and triggered me to write this essay! At the Raleigh Durham Airport (RDU) there are escalators just past security that lead down to the gate level. My gate last month just happened to be at the base of the escalators and I had a prime view to everyone coming down after gathering their luggage. One young man, with a roller bag, backpack, and a belt strung around his neck, and carrying his cellphone started making his way to the top of the escalator. Without paying much attention while he was texting/emailing on his phone, he stepped onto the escalator and all “heck” broke loose. He quickly lost control of his roller bag that tumbled down the escalator, his belt flew off from around his neck as he grabbed for the roller bag. He managed to hold onto his backpack only to drop his cellphone, which joined his roller bag at the bottom of the escalator, and he was only a third of the way down … absolute mayhem!
The good news was no one was hurt and he was able to collect his bag and phone without knocking anyone over… I never did see any sign of the belt in all the confusion, but that “escalator incident” triggered me to write this essay. That young man was absolutely NOT “Present” as he stepped onto the escalator, his mind, focus and headset were scattered and clearly not centered on successfully descending the escalator. He had POOR “Presence”, not operating “with a poise of effectiveness”… far from it! And finally he had limited or non-existent “Prescience,” not only not aware of his environment not able to have the “foresight” of the negative impacts of his actions.