Leaders – your presence is a present. Seriously. When you reflect on your life and think of a leader or mentor that has influenced you the most in a positive way, what traits did they have? I bet at least one of the traits that come to mind is that they were present, engaged or made you feel seen. Influential and successful leaders know the importance of being present in the moments that matter most.

Presence takes work. As a leader, you have a lot of responsibility, stress and people competing for your attention. Like many of you, I’m going 100 miles an hour every day, I’m scheduled super tight with one meeting or activity moving right into the next. Before I implemented “triggers” as a leadership tactic, I’d often find myself thinking about what was next, rather than being present and engaged.

Like most leaders, I’m a planner and strategist by nature, so it’s a challenge for me to not be thinking about what’s next. I used to spend a lot of time on the future. This can be positive in some ways, but the problem is, you often miss out on what is happening in the moment. This translates to missed opportunities – opportunities to connect, perhaps a comment made by a team member that if you had been in the moment, could have changed the trajectory or outcome of a project.

I finally realized that I was operating on auto-pilot. I’d get to work and not remember getting there or be done showering and realize I didn’t rinse the conditioner out of my hair…anyone else done this? This also resulted in a lack of connection. My team and family could tell I was not in the moment and fully engaged, which translated to them not feeling important or seen. I was missing the joy or the magic of truly important moments.

This all changed when I was introduced to the concept of “Triggers” by one of my mentors, Brendon Burchard. A leader who is truly present, engaged and makes others feel seen.

In an earlier blog post, I talked about clarity – and clarity comes into play big time here. So just a quick recap, in that weekly clarity exercise, you ask yourself – what 3 words describe my best self and what are some ideas for how I can embody these words more often.

Triggers begin with clarity and understanding who I want to show up as in leadership, relationships, and life. My 3 words are – inspiring, generous and engaged. I envision showing up as my best self and embodying those words (I make eye contact, I praise team members who are contributing in very subtle but effective ways, I do not look at my watch, I don’t fidget, I make them feel like they are the only person in the room, etc.). I then set trigger for myself so that I get into the right mindset. For me, I set up a “door frame” trigger. Before I walk through an office door, the conference room door, I’m saying the 3 words to describe my best self, I’m taking a deep breath, fully resetting from the prior interaction or meeting, and setting a very clear intention for how I am going to show up.

This works in EVERY area of your life. Any relationship. The people you love the most, often get the short end of the stick, right? I’d find myself getting to this place where I was just used up by the time I got home. The commute home often entails work – a call with a client, solving some sort of problem, schedule an appointment, etc. I pull into the garage and am done. The conversation at home sounded like this – how was your day? Good. How was your day? Good. I wasn’t present. By integrating a trigger for my interactions with family, our relationships have flourished. The trigger for me is the garage door, when it opens, it signifies a new frame of mind. I’m attentive, energetic and engaged. Again, I take a deep breath and do a reset. Triggers have made a huge impact on my life, and as a result, it has positively impacted those who are in it.

You can pick any trigger that makes sense for you and your life. Set alarms on your phone, on your watch, put them in your calendar. Basically, it’s anything that you can identify as a catalyst to show up the way you want to show up in life. It’s powerful.

Get off autopilot and into the moment. This will level up your leadership game and every area of your life. Choose to make a greater impact as a leader give yourself and others the present of presence.