Words of Wisdom for
Leadership, Learning, and Life in
Exactly 99 Words

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99-Word Stories by ,
Creative Learning Director of
The Flirefly Group.
© 2013 Brian Remer
Updated July 2013

Boredom Busters
Boosting Engagement in Meetings, Classrooms, and Trainings

September 23, 2013
More Information Here.

99's on the 9th

Ideas based on 99-Word Stories that
come to you on the 9th of every month.





July 2013

Read this story aloud or make copies for your group or team members.

Being Present
Ken, a swimming buddy of mine, was a practicing Buddhist. He spent time in regular meditation and had traveled several times to Japan to deepen his awareness of "being in the moment." No doubt swimming was an extension of that contemplative practice.

One day he sauntered into the pool carrying his goggles and a strip of black cloth in one hand. When I finished my lap, I quietly asked, "Ken, is that your suit?" Embarrassed, he made a naked dash to the men's room!

Even an expert can benefit from a gentle reminder to be less preoccupied.


You can build upon the theme of this 99-Word Story by using some of the following questions for your own reflection or to spark a discussion within your team or organization.


There are many ways to understand this story as the discussion questions suggest. If you or your group would like to compare or contrast your interpretation with an outside viewpoint, consider this analysis.

We have come to live in a wonderful, weird, wired world. In less than ten years, constant internet connectivity has become commonplace. It is now difficult for many people to imagine being "unplugged" for any length of time. And while many of us are now in more frequent contact with a wider range of people, we are not necessarily communicating any more effectively. Managers have not identified fewer interpersonal problems on their teams. Parents have not reported a breakthrough in their relationship with their teenagers. And, judging by the popularity of romantic comedies at the cinema, "star-crossed lovers" are not communicating any better.

Even though we are fond of technology, it probably will not help us become more focused on the present moment - unless, perhaps, that moment is solely in the virtual world!

But as the 99-Word Story suggests, distractions do not come only from our technology. Some of the most persistent disruptions originate in our own head. Obsessiveness, worry, compulsion, fear, second guessing, mental rehearsal, and replaying conversations are a few of the mental intrusions that compete for our attention. We can be so busy in our private cerebral world that we don't notice how we might be exposing colleagues, family, friends, and the general public to our naked, unrefined selves.

Whether the source of our distraction is internal or external, the price we pay for unfocused attention can be lost productivity, strained relationships, and poor health, to name a few of the obvious problems. Fortunately, we all have the capacity to improve our attention and become more present in every moment. We have the ability to think about what we are thinking about. Through a process of reflective practice we can take control of how we are thinking and choose a more appropriate pattern of thought for the situation.

Reflective practice begins by becoming aware of how we are feeling. Noticing a queasy stomach, shallow breathing, a rapid heart rate, or a furrowed brow, we can explore the physical sensations we are experiencing and probe to discover whether they are the result of fear, anger, anxiety, or some other emotion. By naming the emotions, we take a step toward controlling them and they lose their power to determine our actions.

Once able to separate our emotions from our actions, we can ask what we would like to have happen. What would be the ideal outcome in our particular situation? What can we do or say to achieve that outcome? What end result would others like and how can everyone achieve what is important to them?

The ability to use reflective practice often begins after a heated situation occurs. A quick review of what we felt, what happened, and how we reacted can make us more aware for the next time we encounter a similar state of affairs. As we use reflective practice more, we begin to employ the process sooner after an event. Instead of analyzing what happened days or hours after afterward, our scrutiny takes place more and more in the moment. Soon, we are able to observe and analyze as a situation unfolds and we become even more effective, more focused, more present.

Through reflective practice, we can analyze what's going on in the moment, determine whether it's what we want, then make a new plan and try it out. By being present, we become actors working to build a positive situation instead of re-actors racing to the locker room for cover.

Read More:
For additional information about reflective practice and learning in the moment, consult the following sources.

Reflective Practice with GURU. The Firefly Group. http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/GURU%20paper.htm

The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook. ("Remember MA" pp. 216-218.) Peter Senge. Doubleday. 1994. ISBN: 0-385-47256-0


Did you use this 99-Word Story and the discussion questions or interpretation in your work or personal life? If so, about your experience! If you would like help using 99-Word Stories in your organization, please me.

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