She has been a monk. She’s been a five-time CEO and venture capitalist, scoring Google as one of her investments. She wrote a well-received book, Rules for Renegades, and made it to the White House as an advisor in both the Clinton and Bush administrations. And she did it all as a high school dropout.
Today, Christine Comaford is a highly sought-after executive coach and her remarkable life made for a remarkable Social Capitalist interview.
Comaford’s ideas are a refreshing integration of her days studying spiritual esoterica as a monk and her later investigations into neuroscience and behavior change, but always oriented by the guiding bottom line dictates of the business world.
Take, for example, her contention that presence – being able to “be here, now” – is the foundation of leadership. At first glance, touchy-feely. But think about leaders you may have encountered or read about. Think about people like Bill Clinton or Steve Jobs, each of whom were attributed with the ability to create a “reality distortion field,” a term coined by one of the early Apple software engineers to describe Jobs’ mix of charisma, charm, bravado, and persuasion, all employed to convince his employees that the impossible was possible.
Each one of those Jobs-ian characteristics is its own world of rules and hard to emulate. Not so with presence. Anyone can cultivate it, and in today’s world, especially, it has the power alone to create something akin to your own distortion field.
We are in constant movement, yet constantly fear we are behind. Our days feel shorter. Everything and everyone is a checklist of bits and bytes. Always either in the inbox or the outbox, we walk the streets with our heads down staring into 4-inch glowing screens, processing an incessant stream of disembodied communications.
Technology creates the grand illusion that we are in-touch, that we are satisfying the ultimate human impulse to be seen, heard, and acknowledged. But is it so? I don’t think so.
Real attention paid to us in real time – one-to-one, eye-to-eye, genuine, present, and singularly focused on another – has become an experience of such scarcity, that when it’s given, the outcome is not unlike the reality distortion attributed to a Clinton or Jobs. It allows that person to affect and influence others intimately, to communicate effectively, and to create in very little time an interpersonal bond that is the basis of teams makings things happen they otherwise could not.
The Comaford interview is full of such insights. I know you’ll get a lot out of it.