What is Fierce Presence?

leadership life skills mindset
What is Fierce Presence? - Carolyn Mahboubi Coaching

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When I ask potential clients for the reasons they want to be coached, almost always they want more of one or both of two things — power and money.

Before you judge, ask yourself if power and money aren’t  at the heart of what you want more of as well?

I put it to you that if you want:

  1. An improved relationship with your partner or your children — that’s power!
  2. To build a new business — that’s power + money!
  3. A more balanced and integrated life — that’s power!
  4. To become a more effective leader — that’s power + money!
  5. To become the most optimal and high performing version of yourself — that’s power + money!

Arguably the two most highly charged words in our lexicon are power and money. The truth is that both power and money are underwhelmingly neutral. There is absolutely nothing unique or extraordinary about either, other than what we make power and money mean to us.

Money is a result. It is a result of creating value. And I’ll leave out it’s exploration for another time.

Today I want to focus on power.


So what is power??

Power is not a title, an army or a bunch of strategies for controlling others. Power is not forceful, loud and brutal. Power is not something we acquire or inherit. It’s a state of being and a delivery system for impact.

That’s it.

Human beings are creatures of impact — even more than that of purpose. Not all of us choose to create impact, but every single one of us craves it.


  • If impact is the flashlight, power is the battery.
  • If impact is a document created on my computer, power is having my charger and a plug.
  • If impact is defined by a personal goal, power is your ability to influence the outcome.
  • If impact is being in a loving relationship, power is your own skillfulness and capacity to love like a pro.
  • If impact is being an extraordinary coach, power is mastering exceptional listening abilities.
  • If impact is making money, power is your desire and capacity to create value.
  • If impact is our goal then power is the way.

But the journey of cultivating power in order to increase our impact begins with an essential precondition I call, Fierce Presence.

Fierce Presence is the prerequisite of power because only in this state are we able to remember the battery, the charger and yes, the relationships. Only through consistent, committed and fierce presence can we love deeply, listen forensically, and create infinite value.

If you want to increase your power, you must increase your presence to a level that is sorely lacking in our world today. It’s almost impossible to find a model of powerful presence in our mindlessly multi-tasking and smart phone-controlled lives.

But the rare few who are committed to this practice create  a profound impact in the world and are recognized and cherished by every person they touch.

You can become one of these extraordinary people by practicing the following five habits of mastering Fierce Presence.


1. Let go of the need to be right

It’s impossible to be present to another person or a circumstance if we have already labeled it/them as wrong.

When we enter with the mindset of gathering evidence for our own already decided point of view, we have stepped out of presence, and no amount of yoga breathing can stop our inner attorney general who is waiting her turn to prove she’s right.

Quite simply, if we enter with the intention to prove or preach, we are not present.


2. But breathing does matter

Once you understand that proper breathing is not the only tool for presence, and are willing to take responsibility for your mindset and habits, breathing can be extremely helpful.

Conscious breathing helps us become present to our bodies — a far more uncommon experience than most of us realize. Breathing makes the body our friend and trusted advisor, rather than the runaway train it feels like for most driven and high achieving people.


3. Learn Active Patience

Passive Patience looks like this. You look calm from the outside, but inside, you’re rolling your eyes, tapping your fingers, and sitting in the child’s seat of a car asking, “Are we there yet?”

On the outside, Active Patience may look the same as Passive Patience, but inside there’s a calmness that is authentic and a kind of confidence that exudes from people who are playing the long game.

Cultivating the skill of Active Patience requires clarity of our goals and a commitment to results rather than action at any cost.


4. There is only one of…

There is only one person, one situation, and one act to focus on at any given moment. Even at the biggest party, there is only one person at a time to give our attention to. And even if the tallest stack of dishes awaits in the sink, there’s only one dish at a time to be washed.

Training our minds to slow down and focus on the one thing, the one person and the one circumstance in front of us is arguably the most impactful practice for developing Fierce Presence.  


5. It’s not about you, until it is

What is it about going to the movies that is so much fun? Mainly it’s the experience of losing ourselves for a brief time in the story of another. It’s so utterly relaxing to our system when we can just be in a state of curiosity and openness as opposed to our usual self-conscious state.

We can step into that relaxed and curious zone simply by reminding ourselves that whatever and whoever is in front of us at any given moment, it isn’t about us.  

I realize that this practice of non-attachment is not easy to cultivate, but it’s life-changing and worth the effort. We don’t need to engage with the movie screen, we can simply observe and maybe even enjoy it. And because we are fiercely present, we will know exactly when to step in and contribute meaningfully.


Fierce Presence is the greatest gift you can give to yourself. It will transform your life and relationships. But it’s an even more remarkable gift to the receiver.

Here are some words people who have experienced Fierce Presence use to describe what it felt like for them: 

Loved, seen, understood, calm, refreshing, generous, valued, authentic, special, focused, intimate, important, empowering, warm, impactful, engaging, quiet, magical, validating, accepting and priceless.

These people were not given expensive gifts or life altering advice. They were simply experiencing the power of Fierce Presence.

It is only when we are able to grow this rare and precious space for ourselves and others, that we understand the genuine meaning of power in service of impact.

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