This morning, I found myself attempting to answer the telephone and have a meaningful conversation, while simultaneously completing my year end 401K contribution paperwork which I hope to mail later today. This multitasking seemed normal to me, until I noticed that I was writing snippets from my conversation onto the official 401K paper. I can only imagine that my telephone presence was equally haphazard.
Mindfulness is a concept that I have come to appreciate more and more. It is, in fact, a way of living and navigating your day. It is as relevant to your personal endeavors as to your work life.To help us understand what mindful leadership looks like and feels like, I asked an expert to contribute to my blog this week.
I met Jackie Johnson about six years ago through networking. Just being in her presence has a calming effect. She has been a voice of reason when I needed it most. Please enjoy reading her article on how the practice of mindful leadership can improve the quality of your attention, as well as the productivity and fulfillment in your work and life.
The Practice of Mindful Leadership by Jackie Johnson
A corporate client recently asked me if his mindfulness practice should be “less generic” and more directly tied to his leadership work. My response was to use the analogy that just as we exercise to make the body stronger, more agile and resilient, mindfulness practice is training for the mind that serves us at work and throughout our lives.
In the torrent of our exposure to information and non-stop change, it is vital for leaders to expand awareness while maintaining a clear and stable focus. Mindfulness skills are increasingly cited as the tools critical for wise, effective, and sustainable leadership.
Mindful leadership is leadership presence.
As we cultivate the ability to embody nonjudgmental attention in the present moment, we build focus, clarity, creativity and compassion, a quality of attention that is seen and felt by others. We are able to notice opportunities and choose with wisdom.
Neuroscience confirms that the practice of mindfulness increases the brain’s ability to function more effectively and to change itself. Daily practice, even of short duration, is shown to improve focus and clarity, reduce stress, expand awareness, and improve overall well being.
In practicing simple forms of mindfulness throughout the day, we typically discover more about ourselves; our thought patterns, emotions and response to our experiences. We become more aware of others and our environment. We move in a calmer, less hurried way, yet we accomplish more. Thinking is clearer and decision-making is easier.
Mindfulness training may or may not involve meditating on a cushion. Mindful pauses can simply become part of your day without adding to an already full schedule.
Some simple daily mindfulness tips:
- Notice your first waking breath as a way of starting your day rather than having the day start you.
- Choose to “monotask”. Be aware of the temptation to multitask (emailing while on a phone call, etc.) and choose one activity, devoting full attention.
- Purposefully pause and take a breath before picking up the phone or beginning a conversation that you imagine may be challenging.
- Take a break and try a new lens. Go for a brief walk and open your awareness to discover three things you have not noticed before. What is different when you return to work?
- Choose one or two days a week to drive to or from work without the radio or phone, simply experiencing driving.
Put these ideas into action
This week, select ONE of the mindful tips that Jackie Johnson has shared with us. Put this tip into practice on a daily basis. Make this your intention for the week. Don’t judge or score your success with the implementation, just bring your attention to it.
Observe how you feel, how your thinking changes, how your energy shifts. Notice the impact on your productivity and changes in your feelings of satisfaction and contentment.
Now imagine that you made it a daily habit to practice mindfulness. As a result, how would your leadership presence evolve?