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The Art of Being

Person relaxing and connecting with nature
Just be and find success

The Art of Doing. It’s an art form that many high-performing executives have mastered over their careers. For them, the Art of Doing often becomes the yardstick by which they are judged—by peers, managers, board members, and even themselves.

I remember early in my career, I started a job in a division of a global corporation. After about two weeks, I noticed something striking: many of my peers arrived at the office a full two hours before the more senior managers even rolled in. They took immense pride in being the first there, first at their desk, and first to dive into the “doings” of the day. Guess what? I figured if I didn’t do the same and show how much I was accomplishing, I wouldn’t advance.

So, I joined in, and my journey toward mastering the Art of Doing began. I was very successful—climbing the ladder to SVP status within a couple of years. My relentless doing made me stand out, so I kept pushing. Doing my day job, doing evening events to entertain potential business partners, doing the extensive travel required, and squeezing in life outside of work when I could. And, even that was packed with doing.

Yes, I was successful. My mastery of the Art of Doing seemed to pay off handsomely, so why stop? Why take a break from doing to make time for simply being, when being didn’t seem to yield the same rewards? If I stopped doing, I felt the money would vanish, my business and social networks would fray, and my opportunities would dwindle. My competitive edge relied on constant action. It became hard to even relax on vacation! I had become a full-blown grand master in the Art of Doing.

Until one morning in my early 40s, I woke up and realized—truly realized—that I was in my early 40s. This stage of my life was no longer a distant future; it was my present. I had built a great business, lived and worked overseas, and accomplished amazing things. But, I also had one broken marriage, no children, and my energy was perpetually hovering between low and empty. My ability to maintain my grand mastery status was slipping away, day by day.

Not wanting to lose my edge, I decided to mentor business people as a volunteer. I wanted to give back, and if I’m honest, networking and meeting new people is a key element to keeping the doing going. However, the more I mentored, the more I realized the treadmill we were all on. Constantly running from one thing to the next was a common experience among most people I worked with. And while they could point to many accomplishments they were all lacking and feeling that lack.

Seeing this all around me was the first time I truly felt the pain of being a grand master of the Art of Doing. It meant I was operating on a quarter tank all the time. I was definitely making things happen, but never to the fullest effect. Yes, there were successes, but was money in the bank the only measure of my life? I was so wrung out by all my doing that I forgot what joy and happiness really felt like. Most importantly, I realized that as a mentor, I couldn’t help others be their best if I wasn’t fulfilled, energized, rested, and happy.

This realization was a turning point. It was time to give up grand mastery of the Art of Doing with the becoming one in the Art of Being.

I knew I had to change, and when I transitioned from a corporate life to the realm of executive coaching, I realized that what would define me as a coach was embracing and living within the framework of the Art of Being instead of the Art of Doing. The Art of Being encompasses several key elements:

Connecting to Your Truest Self:

Being means taking time to connect with your truest self. This version of you shows up most often when you’re experiencing happiness, synchronicity, love, achievement, courage, creativity, or any uplifting feeling. Your truest self isn’t clouded by the pain of external issues or internal negativity. Being means spending more time with the real you.

Knowing that Being is Doing:

How can being also be doing? If you’re truly being, aren’t you taking a break, not working, not playing, not thinking, etc.? Actually, if you consider the first point, being can happen anytime you connect with your true self. It could be while speaking to a thousand people on a stage as much as it can be enjoying a summer aperitif on a beach. Being is doing something that connects you to the real you, so being is doing with intention and awareness that you’re in a moment of being, not just doing.

Enhancing Your Abilities:

Taking breaks to “be” enhances your abilities when you “do.” Just like doing, being is an art. To become a grandmaster of the Art of Being, you need to practice being, and taking breaks is the way to do that.

One concept I learned from years of business travel and personal transformation is the airplane oxygen mask rule: put your mask on first before assisting others. This applies to mastering the Art of Being. If you don’t take care of yourself first, you can’t help others effectively. In business terms, if you don’t refuel, you can’t be as effective. The Art of Doing without the Art of Being will eventually catch up to you.

Taking a break is essential for mastering the Art of Being and excelling in life. Breaks allow you to realign with your true self, refuel, and create space for creativity and mindfulness. When you reframe breaks as essential rather than idle time, they become integral to a successful day and life.

Breaks don’t have to be a two-week vacation. They can be a two-minute pause to step away, breathe, and assess what a situation needs from you. A break can be scheduled time each day to connect with your inner self through meditation, physical activity, journaling—anything that lets you reset. You control what breaks mean to you and can decide what breaks to take, when, and for how long.

I advise my clients to have a “To Be” list alongside or instead of a “To Do” list. A “To Be” list might include five-minute meditations, focused time with family, being creative, or learning something new. These actions rejuvenate you daily. I also encourage quick breaks during intense work. With decreasing attention spans across all ages, a planned or unplanned break can reset focus, allowing for higher quality work.

As someone who thrives on doing, I’ve found that becoming a grandmaster of the Art of Being has paid far greater dividends in my business and more importantly in my life. So, take a break and just be.


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