Becoming a Mindful Leader
How often do you find yourself thinking about something that is not directly related to the present moment?
What’s for dinner.
That appointment you keep meaning to schedule.
Where to go for your next vacation.
How many emails you still need to respond to once you’re out of this never-ending meeting…
Well, you’re in good company! Harvard Psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert found that most people spend 46.9% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re actually doing.
From my research and experience, we typically hijack our focus in three key ways…
And as common as this practice is, it’s generally not helpful. Research shows that the habit of mind-wandering typically makes us unhappy, rather than feeling more peaceful and fulfilled!
“Mind-wandering is an excellent predictor of people’s happiness,” Killingsworth says. “In fact, how often our minds leave the present and where they tend to go is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged.”
So why do we do it?
To escape or avoid
To get more done
To take a mental break
To…[fill in your reason]
Why Mindfulness Matters
Mindfulness is definitely one buzzword that has become increasingly popular over the last decade. Jon Kabat-Zinn, well-respected author and founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic, shares that mindfulness requires us to pay attention on purpose and stay in the present moment.
People who practice mindfulness intentionally create a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment, according to the Greater Good Science Center based out of UC Berkeley.
The American Psychological Association has identified numerous mental, emotional, and physical benefits of practicing mindfulness, including:
- Less stress and decreased anxiety
- Boosts to working memory
- Sharper mental focus
- Reduced emotional reactivity
- More cognitive flexibility
- Higher relationship satisfaction
Set a timer for 60 seconds and choose one question to ponder:
When was the last time you felt truly present?
What gets in the way of being in-the-moment?
When do you allow yourself to be absorbed in what you’re doing or feeling?
What is one thing you can STOP doing and then START doing to be more focused?
Becoming a Mindful Leader
With all of these positive benefits, becoming more mindful appears to be one of the missing dimensions of modern leadership practices. Yet it’s not always easy.
The Mindful Leader understand the importance of being still and accomplishing a lot.
She makes time to rest, reflect, and act. The desires to simply push through and get more done is replaced by an increased awareness of what is needed (and what is not). People feel comfortable and supported around the Mindful Leader. They feel heard, respected, and allowed to express themselves and grow. Teams flourish. Productivity increases. Stress is replaced by motivation. Engagement increases.
Here are some success strategies from Meditation Trainer, Michelle Alexander, to help you become a more Mindful Leader:
- Be Grateful: Calendar 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening to hold a feeling of simple gratitude. Visualize the people, experiences, and gifts you’re most thankful for, and watch your day-to-day satisfaction skyrocket!
- Choose Compassion: We are perfect beings having an imperfect physical experience. When your default perspective is one of understanding and kindness, it’s much easier to let the little things roll off your back and reduce that killer stress factor. When you practice gentleness with others and with yourself it becomes easier to get back on track if you veer off course.
- Get Guided: Learning new meditation techniques and mindful perspectives can be tough on your own! Listening to a soothing voice lead you step-by-step through a full practice can help tame your “monkey mind.” There are a myriad of podcasts, apps, and local interest groups you can tap into to ensure your new journey to awareness is not a solo one.
My Invitation for the Next 30 Days…
One of the biggest findings from mindfulness research is how regular meditation can actually shape your brain and enhance your life (read more here). So join me as I commit to a daily meditation practice through the month of September. That’s 30 days of carving out moments of silence and stillness to reconnect with myself and the things that matter most.
New to meditation and need some support? If you’re local to Sacramento, come join Michelle and friends at The Urban Hive on Wednesdays at 11:30am for a guided meditation session. Or download one of these awesome meditation apps and give it a try! Let me know what you think and what differences you notice.
- What is Mindfulness?
- Defining Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn
- What are the benefits of mindfulness
- Minding the Details of Mind-Wandering
- Wandering mind not a happy mind
- 23 Types of Meditation
Be the Revolution,
Leslie Bosserman, M.Ed., CPCC
Executive Coach + Lifestyle Strategist for Millennial Leaders + Managers
Originally published at leadwithintention.com/blog on September 1, 2016.
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More About Leslie
Leslie M. Bosserman, M.Ed., CPCC, is an Executive Coach + Lifestyle Strategist designing customized leadership solutions for Millennial Leaders and their Managers. With a background in strengths-based leadership development and applied positive psychology, she runs a multi-disciplinary practice called Lead With Intention where she coaches, trains, and consults with clients around the world.
Leslie works with a variety of clients ranging from top executives at worldwide corporations to creative entrepreneurs and non-profit teams. She is an avid artist who also enjoys traveling, karaoke, cooking ethnic food, writing in local coffee shops, and practicing yoga.
Leslie lives in Northern California and travels internationally for coaching, organizational trainings, and retreat facilitation. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Medium or send her an email at Leslie@LeadWithIntention.com to learn how to partner together.