Respect the Moment

sao paolo brazilMy walk through the City of God (Rio de Janeiro) ranks among my most memorable travel experiences. Last week, I was excited for a return visit to Brazil to keynote the Novartis Medical Summit.

I arrived in São Paulo just after 7 am. I didn’t sleep well on the overnight flight but a quick nap and workout provided enough energy for me to explore the city for a couple hours that afternoon. I set out on foot with a solid playlist and map of the city just in case. I didn’t have a real plan and was hoping to simply to get a little taste of São Paulo. The city is expansive and the people were friendly. I was soaking in the energy and wishing for a little more time.

I arrived back at the hotel with enough time to get ready for dinner…and then I hit the wall. Tired and wanting to be rested for my keynote the following morning, I decided to go down to the lobby and excuse myself from the dinner commitment.   As I approached the group I made the split-second decision to push through. I knew it would be an incredible learning opportunity. I was right.

We arrived at Figueira Rubayat restaurant by bus.  It was approaching 8pm and the place was just starting to wake up for the evening. Our cocktail hour was followed by a wonderful dinner accompanied by even better wine and conversation. Being the only American at the table provided an opportunity for me to listen and learn more about life and work in other parts of the world. I know the opportunity to expand my perspective this way is increasingly valuable. Not only was I learning more about culture and business in different parts of the world, I had a live research lab to help prepare for my talk in the morning! Home run.  Sleep can wait.

As the dinner rolled on I could feel the buzz in my pocket. Text. Chat. Tweet. Call. I felt the gravitational pull. As I went for the reach and glance, I did a quick scan around the room and noticed something a bit unusual for a long, mid-week business dinner.

Nobody had a phone out. Fifteen more minutes passed. Nobody had a phone out.

I finally broached the subject at my table. I wanted to know.

Turns out it was simply respect for the moment. The opportunity to break bread with colleagues from around the world wasn’t something that happened often enough and they embraced it the right way. The lesson: the smartphone doesn’t necessarily belong next to your salad fork.

The emotional connection required to develop high-value, high-trust relationships takes effort. Undivided attention is unfortunately becoming increasingly rare.   I desperately wanted to check in. I was afraid of missing out.

What I would have really been missing is the gift of the moment.

The irony that the communication and leadership expert they hired to keynote needed that reminder isn’t lost on me. Was I too distracted? Was I getting lazy?

Either way, I was grateful for the lesson.

The places we go and people we meet will expand our perspective and help us evolve if we are invested enough to let them. So will the people we know and love. It’s worth the investment.

Are you addicted to the buzz? Do you silence incoming calls even when you are free?

Are you missing opportunities to make a meaningful connection?

When the moment matters it’s worth remembering…you are here.

Ryan Estis & Associates is a training and development organization helping companies, leaders, sales people and individual contributors embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance in the new economy. We offer keynotes, live classroom training and online learning that blends interaction, energy and actionable content designed to elevate performance. Contact us for programming inquiries and assistance determining the curriculum that could best support your learning and development objectives.

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