the Presence Point

Transforming Obstacles

Magnolia in bloom by Sarah Lipton

Magnolia in bloom, by Sarah Lipton

Spring has finally sprung here in Northern Vermont. The grass is vivid and the leaves are beginning to unfurl.

We’ve just come through an intense period of time, at least myself and most people I know have felt that way. I found that for me, the whole process could be summed up by the metaphor of a bulb in frozen ground working hard to push through the frozen soil up into the light and begin the journey towards blooming. The thaw of winter’s icy grip, the realization that the irritating process of growing means transforming obstacles into nutrients.

Transforming obstacle into nutrient.

Take that in for a moment. This means that the irritation we feel needs to be listened to, learned from and worked with. That if we actually slow down enough to pay attention to the messages of our irritation, we will learn and grow and eventually bloom.

The cycle of learning is a good way to describe this process: going frostages of learningm unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence then to conscious competence and finally to unconscious competence. This is about building our awareness and allowing ourselves to walk through the journey of learning, without judging ourselves in the process. Once we have accomplished the learning of a particular thing, we move on to learning the next thing - and we always start with unconscious incompetence.

We can therefore apply ourselves to the process of transforming obstacles into nutrients just the way we approach any learning journey - we apply awareness.

First, we can ask ourselves, what am I not aware of? What are the messages coming in about this issue or situation? Where does this information reside in my body? Through this self-reflection, we become familiar with our experience - we are moving from unconscious to conscious incompetence.

Once we have arrived at awareness, or consciousness, we can begin to lean in even further and learn the tactics, tools and skills we need to deal with our new knowledge and begin to turn that into wisdom. In my tradition, wisdom is unconscious competence - we have moved from knowing what we know to being informed by what we know and now have the ability, flexibility, agility and deeper knowing that we need in order to move through change and do the work of transformation.

What do we need for this journey of transformation? We need grit. We need tolerance. We need adaptability and flexibility. We need strength and confidence. We need vision and mission and purpose.

Are those tall orders? Perhaps. This is not a journey for the unwilling. And yet, this is a journey we are all already innately prepared to take on. So, it’s up to you to decide - are you ready to rouse the awareness to walk the path of transforming obstacles into nutrients? If so, then go for it!

And share your experience with us!

Article dedicated to all of my clients I’ve been guiding on this journey over the last few months - you know who you are!

learning cycle photo thanks to

Self-Aware Leadership?

Self-Aware Leadership

Fog atop Mount Umunum, Los Gatos, California; photo by Sarah Lipton

As a leader, are you experiencing fogginess and clumsiness in your interactions? Perhaps it is time to turn inwards and develop deeper self-awareness. But why would you do that?

We at The Presence Point are celebrating. Why? Because the Harvard Business Review just published an article by Rasmus Hougaard, Jacqueline Carter and Marissa Afton entitled:

Self-Awareness Can Help Leaders More Than an MBA Can

"Approximately 40% of CEOs are MBAs," shares the article. "Many large-scale studies have found that leadership based solely on MBA-trained logic is not always enough for delivering long-term financial and cultural results, and that it is often detrimental to an organization’s productivity. Self-awareness, on the other hand, is essential. It’s not enough for CEOs to lead with prevailing business theories. Leaders need to convince others of their vision and make them feel comfortable with change. And they need to do so authentically." (Read the full article by clicking here.)

It's in the news. Self-awareness is the secret key to leadership. Haven't I been saying that for years? Well, yes.

So why would you want to cultivate that self-awareness? Well, you can read the Harvard article, or you can just pause for a moment and reflect for yourself:

  • Would it be fulfilling to spend your time distracted and hooked by each and every reaction, only determining your inner confidence based on other people's opinions?
  • Or would there be freedom in letting yourself be who you are?

The truth is, we already have everything we need. Within us, right this very moment, is everything we need to recognize what is real, to understand which path to take, as well as the ability to rouse unconditional confidence.

All we have to do is pause, just be, feel and let that reflection guide us to insight. Then our actions, expressions and communications arise from genuine presence.


There is, therefore, no better moment to share with you that The Presence Point is perfectly poised to support the leaders of the companies you work for, are inspired by, and long to see succeed. Through customizable trainings, workshops and one-on-one mentoring sessions, Sarah and her team are ready to guide leaders on an authentic journey to success.

Contact Sarah for a free 30 minute consultation to see if leadership mentoring from the inside-out is the right fit for you.

Doing Good Work

Doing Good Work

photo credit: mariateresa toledo Autunno al parco via photopin (license)

Doing good work is something most of us aspire to. But how do we do that when we are not being paid and therefore motivated by a paycheck? How can we show up as leaders even if we’re “only a volunteer”?

Article requested and inspired by Claudia Pringles, Estate Attorney

The first snow of late autumn has descended upon this small valley in Northern Vermont and already I see evidence of neighbors doing good work for each other. Someone comes out with a broom to sweep the slippery steps and someone else is busy raking up the leaves off the sidewalk so that when more snow comes it will not be so icy. These are natural things we do for one another, this kind of volunteerism. We want to see our friends, family and community safe and happy.

But what about when we step beyond our neighborhood and out into a larger arena of volunteering? How do you feel confident about pursuing a particular passion through volunteering? Can you put your efforts into helping a local non-profit who is doing a project and needs some help and find fulfillment?

As someone who has been involved in volunteering for literally 3 decades (since I was 10 years old, in fact!), and having taught many, many others how to engage in volunteer projects, I wanted to offer this simple checklist to you as you navigate your volunteer world.

  • Inner Purpose: Feel into your heart. Are you connected with the core purpose of why you want to volunteer your time? Once you are clear with your inner purpose, you can ensure that your activities meet and match that vision.
  • Outer Purpose: Contemplate the purpose of the organization or group effort you are going to be volunteering with. Do you understand and embrace it? Does this outer purpose align with your inner purpose? If so, then go for it!
  • Efficient Action: By engaging in activity that we are connected to, we want to be efficient in how we proceed. We don’t need to waste time trying to change the mission of the organization, but rather are able to harness the power of that mission to do the good work that needs to be done - even if that is as simple as changing a lightbulb or cleaning a toilet. By seeing how our small action supports the larger mission, we are able to magnify the benefits of our activity. We actually feel good about what we are doing!
  • Connection: Are we connecting with others? Is there a sense of shared purpose and therefore camaraderie? Are we able to ride through any irritations that arise and come back to that sense of a shared purpose and vision? We can use connection for the benefit of ourselves and others.
  • Fulfillment: Fulfillment in work means we are being fed on a deeper level by our work. When we have connected to the vision and purpose of the work and connected with others, and accomplished even a small amount of good work, there is often a sense of joy and satisfaction.

Volunteering through connection to shared purpose is the hub that spins the wheel on so many meaningful and necessary projects to benefit our society. I mean, it’s up to you - you could show up and grumble about the job that you have to do, or you could reach inside and find inner fulfillment in what you do! Doing good work can be very simple indeed.

Sarah Lipton founded The Presence Point, LLC to support leaders as they pursue good work in the world. To learn more about what she is up to, visit her website:

Thriving Disaster

Thriving Disaster

The news is overwhelming these days. How can we thrive in the face of so many disasters?

As autumn leaves take precedence on Vermont hillsides, my heart collides with each disaster occurring around the world because I know at least one person affected in every location. It seems that this is what it means to live an interconnected, global life these days.

When we pay attention, the news is overwhelming. In this age of instant information, it is easy to shut down. It is understandable to want to shut out the suffering and turn away, because really, who can feel so much pain and uncertainty and fear? We become trapped in a cycle of needing the daily news and then spending the rest of our time shutting down because it’s all just too much.

But there has to be another way.

I am endeavoring to make another choice: to listen to the news, feel my breaking heart and concern for friends and family and then come back to this very moment and feel my feet on this good green earth, to breathe in the autumn air. Looking out at the horizon where the hillsides are turning from green to orange, yellow and red right before my very eyes is my only true solace. I must look up at the blue sky, noticing the clouds shifting through every imaginable shape. I must feel the soft skin of my little baby’s cheek. I must see the light dancing in the eyes of my toddler as she explores the world around her.

I can therefore offer this to you, in this time of disaster overload. Please pause for a moment of reflection, let yourself be present where you are right now, because otherwise it is just too much.

  • Step One: Be Present Pause and feel. Just be.

  • Step Two: Be in the Body You’ve already heard the news, you are already lost in the myriad mazes of fear and worry. Let go of the gadgets and headlines for just one moment and be present in your body. If it’s helpful, actually do a body scan and feel each and every part of your body. This body is our vehicle. It is where we live. Come home to yourself.
  • Step Three: Open to Space We do not live in a vacuum, we live in the midst of the world. When we extend our awareness out from the presence in our body, we can touch and feel the space around ourselves. This is very literal and tactile - actually extend your awareness out into the room around you, the building around that, and beyond the walls into the natural or urban environment beyond that. Then extend that awareness out further, connect with the wider landscape around you - the buildings, mountains, hills, rivers, oceans, or city parks. Extend your awareness up into the sky and actually see the clouds shifting and changing.
  • Step Four: Feel and Reflect From this space of embodied presence, we can actually feel into our experience. This is about tuning in to all of our senses. We can actually touch the fear and uncertainty, now that we are present in our body and open to space. By feeling, we allow a moment to reflect on how we feel and this opens us to understanding. This is a huge gift you can give yourself anytime. By taking a moment to pause and reflect, we open to the possibility of insight. We can actually see what it would mean for us to thrive in the face of disaster, instead of just closing down, spacing out or acting from frantic fear.
  • Step Five: Genuine Activity By slowing down for just a moment to be present in our body, opening to space and actually feeling and reflecting on our experience, we can engage in genuine activity. Genuine activity means we are not just knee-jerk reacting but rather responding based on our insight. Genuine activity means engaging with our experience and understanding what is appropriate to do or not do. We can feel the heartbreak of a situation but not be overpowered by it.

Please use these steps. This is about leadership from the inside-out. This is about transforming the too-muchness of our experience and making it workable. This is how we thrive.

Please reach out and share how you have been able to transform your experience. There is so much going on. I want to hear how you are thriving in the midst. You can email me at:

For more writing in this vein, please see my extensive blog:

Autumn Begins: Updates from Sarah

Autumn Begins Updates from Sarah

The sunlight filters through not-quite-green leaves. The cycles of the year have done their dance and it is again that rich season of early autumn.

The turkeys are, as I write, pecking away at the empty potato patch and the tomatoes are finally starting to ripen. It is a time again for new beginnings, and I am writing to share with you where I am at and what’s new with The Presence Point.

Some of you may know that I stopped working for the summer to have my second daughter. Indigo Poppy was born on July 2nd at 3:30 in the morning at 7lbs 14oz. Odessa Rose has adjusted beautifully to the new addition and the two sisters are really quite sweet together. I was extremely fortunate to have another beautiful home-birth and then enjoy a summer of being on our beautiful Vermont land with my family. It was not the easiest transition, but we have all learned and grown so much.

Now it is again September, and with that I am entering year three of my business! Odessa has entered preschool and so I am re-attuning my mind to The Presence Point. I have done a lot of deep inner work as well as dreaming and visioning over the summer and am delighted to share the fruits of my labor with you.

With Indigo snugly wrapped up on my body, I will again start meeting with my clients to guide them down their journies of leadership. I am excited and grateful to have a full client load to begin the season with. In the gaps between clients, I am busily finishing the last 5 podcast episodes of Genuine: Season One (you can become a patron of the project and hear the first 5 episodes here: Once complete, my team and I can get cracking on Season Two, and also begin moving towards a strong PR launch of Season One. I have also just lined up an outstanding photographer to partner with on a forthcoming book called Genuine, stay tuned for future developments on that!

Another project in the pipeline is that I am preparing to launch an online class focused on the tools and skills needed to embody leadership in a practical, effective and powerful way. I am also beginning the process of publishing my books (I have two in the pipeline to finish editing and get published, and more that I’m itching to write), and of course I will continue to blog for you.

The big news as I move forward this year is that I am shifting my work to create corporate mission development packages with the support of fellow colleagues in BNI (Business Networking International - my business networking group, for which I serve as the Secretary/Treasurer in my local chapter). My plan is to offer these services to companies here in Vermont initially, but as time goes on, to extend further out into the region and eventually the international sector.

I have my sights set far into the future, but am doing the work to remember how to be simple, how to be here and now. This dance between vision and earth is where presence occurs, and so I endeavor to cultivate patience about the possibilities I see.

As my business takes shape, I strive to form my offerings to meet your needs. So please engage with me. Let me know if there’s a topic you’d like me to write about in a blog article, or if there’s someone I absolutely need to meet and talk to for my podcast. Or, if you know of a company that is in need of mission development support, please connect us.

The Presence Point is here to serve the emerging leaders of our world. So let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work together!

The Secret Golden Key of Leadership

The Secret Golden Key of Leadership

photo credit: Christian Collins velvet lined leaf via photopin (license)

So much of leadership requires that we be "on."
But how can we do that in a way that is genuine?

The sun is shining today, but it is still cold out. I have an aching rib from four weeks of bronchitis. My to-do list is way too long, and my toddler is needing my attention. But I am supposed to be preparing for a presentation I have to do later this week.

How can I show up and present in front of people when I am not feeling so great? How can I let go of my various distractions and relate with and respond to others?

I close my eyes for a moment and turn towards the sunshine.

The warmth infuses my whole body, and for just this moment, I take it in. I breathe deeply, I feel the presence of sunshine and the gift of it. I feel my body, not just the aching rib, but the pulsing of my heart, the fluid movement of my breath, the solid feel of my feet on the ground.

I am present! For this very moment, I am nowhere else but here, soaking in the sunshine. Recharging my batteries by tuning in to this very moment.

It occurs to me that I can turn “on” by tuning in.

That this, in fact, is some kind of secret golden key for leadership, for anyone presenting in front of others. That we don’t have to “turn on” in such a way that’s cranking ourselves up. We don’t have to “showcase” that we are beautiful, magnificent and present. We can just be that.

It doesn’t matter if we feel anxious or scared or grumpy. We can just be who we are, as we are, right this moment.

By being present, we tap in and feel how we feel. This then ensures that any expression we share comes from a place of genuine presence - we are not trying to be somebody else. We can see clearly what is needed in this moment, and how to present what we need to share.

Our genuine presence then translates into confidence, which is an expression of how empowered we feel to be who we are, to present our wisdom and knowledge. This inner empowerment then extends out and empowers all whom we are engaging with and presenting to. In fact, our very presence is more informative than our verbal presentation. Just our presence empowers the others around us to be who they are too!

In this way, we can turn on by tuning in.

Try it next time you have to get in front of others. You need nothing for this - you don’t necessarily need a fancy makeup kit or new leather shoes. You don’t need an Idiot’s Guide to presenting, you just need your own self, a little presence and awareness of your body and the environment you are in, and then to express from that place of presence.

And then let me know how it goes! I’d love to hear from you! Please drop a line and let me know how it went! Write to me at:


Article dedicated to Trevor and Shawn for inspiring this line of thinking.

For more writing in this vein, visit my website: