This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

I’m sure we’re similar in that we have more things to do in a day than there are hours in a day. You probably also struggle as I do to be really present from moment-to-moment—especially in your interactions with others—even though you know that’s an important part of walking the trusted advisor talk. We’re different, though, because you’re not a “spokesperson” for trusted advisorship, and therefore not hypocritical when you fail. And fail I did recently, in a very visible way.

Short back story: Against my better judgment, I joined a client conference call while I was being driven to the airport.

What’s the big deal, you ask? Isn’t driving (or riding) and talking a common practice among business people? A necessary fallout of the reality of our waking work lives?

Maybe. Common practice doesn’t make it right or good. I purposefully work very hard not to schedule myself this way because of the myriad trust-compromising implications: call drops, background noise, general distractions, and the stress of juggling multiple things at once. And I’m almost always successful at making it all work so that I avoid the need to double-book—it’s amazing what intention makes possible.

Only this time I made an exception because—well, for a lot of reasons. There were multiple people in multiple time zones. Prior attempts to reschedule had failed. My ego told me I was an important contributor to the conversation (hooks me every time). So … alright, fine. What’s the big deal?

When I got in the car, I let my driver know my plans to join a 7 am teleconference and learned we’d arrive at the airport half-way through it (bad timing, but OK). Upon said arrival, I told my clients, who knew in advance of my circumstances, that I was muting briefly to settle up with my driver and change locations. Then I energetically swung open the passenger door without looking and decimated the driver side mirror of a car that was pulling up alongside. Crunch.

So much for the conference call. I had to drop the line completely while I dealt with the impact (literally and figuratively)—apologies offered (mine, to a lot of people), phone numbers and insurance information exchanged, plans to settle negotiated. Of course, all of this was done in a rush because we were at an airport and who isn’t hurrying at an airport? Plus I, Very Important Person, had that call to get back to.

I got off easy with the $466.72 it cost me to settle with the other driver. Visions of clocking an elderly passerby, instead of a car mirror, danced in my head as I sat down in the terminal to reconnect with my clients.

So much for being present.

Do what you will with my lesson learned. I am fully aware of the constraints on your time and the realities of your scheduling challenges. I’m also fully aware—at least right now—of the ways we all make choices under the guise of “no choice” that end up costing us time, money, and relationships in the end.

Make It Real

This week, take a critical look at your schedule and see where there are opportunities to design it so that you can be more present to the tasks and interactions that demand your attention. Then, change one thing. Just one. What opens up—literally and figuratively?

Learn More

Find out whether multitasking ruins your ability to multitask, from our friends at Trusted Advisor Associates, or brush up on the four barriers to paying attention in Chapter 6 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.

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Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).