9 Feb 2015

Mindful Leadership: Transform Yourself to Inspire Others

Words: Lindy Norris // Photo: LKB Photography

It started in The Valley - now it's here.

Mindfulness is paving its way into the modern workplace. Several years ago, after securing its influence in corner offices amongst Google, Apple, eBay, Goldman Sachs, and McKinsey, the traditional Buddhist practice shifted Eastward.


What is "Mindfulness" Anyway?

Simply put, mindfulness is moment-to-moment awareness and enlightenment. At work, this translates to brief instances of mediation to re-focus and re-centre, thereby increasing self-awareness, clarity, sense of judgment, and productivity. As TIME explained, it "finds peace in a stressed-out, digitally-dependent culture."

Mindfulness is not something we should be sold on: it's inherent, but we need to learn to tap into it under pressure. It increases productivity and allows decision making based on reality, rather than wishful thinking or fear.

Before erasing yourself from the movement, consider the days you spent hours in meetings, only to later agonize in recounting details you didn't write down. Or, the days you arrive home from work, only to realize you recall nothing of the commute. Your body is present, but is your mind? 

Might be time to test drive mindfulness.




Quickly named by Harvard, Forbes, Fortune, The Economist, Entrepreneur, Wired, Inc.com, and HuffPost as the secret to leadership, mindfulness is proven to reduce stress, foster emotional intelligence, improve C-Suite capacity, increase complex thinking, and support self-regulation and effective decision-making – to name a few. Benefits are limitless, and transition seamlessly between professional and personal wellness.

Mindfulness has eclipsed yoga studios to become ubiquitous in boardrooms. Why? Our omni-connected, hyper-communicative, over-scheduled and multi-tasking culture has eroded ability to focus. "New nature" sees us operating multiple screens, simultaneous conversations, over longer hours per day: a digitally intellectual marathon without reprieve. We skip breaks, work through lunch, and hunker down with laptops late into the evening - innocent when done sporadically, but toxic when habitual. Thoughts scatter, judgment clouds, self awareness wanes, and leadership capacity suffers.

Our brains demand calmness, space, expansion, and reflection to function at optimal levels. For leaders and employees alike, peak performance demands intellectual sharpness and agility in making tough calls. Through mindfulness, we can trigger internal reset to gain clarity and perspective on big picture decisions.


Still Not Convinced?

The belief "Mindfulness = Profitability" is widely maintained amongst North America's most notable entrepreneurs. Howard Schultz, Warren Buffett, Chip and Shannon Wilson, and Mark Zuckerberg are just a few of those whom adopted mindfulness early and continue its practice today. They recognized impact of clarity on business decisions; from business decisions to operation; and operation to profit. Consider the proven benefits of mindfulness:

 It reduces the tendency to overthink, allowing you to focus more on the moment instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future

 It reduces chronic stress by providing tools to diffuse daily stressors and the clarity to navigate challenges

 It generates wisdom and ability to leave the "me-centered" point of view, instead really listening to perspective from others

 It allows you to find stillness, thereby improving judgment through better ability to assess current situations and enhance sense of self

• It improves soft skill development such as attitude, confidence, work ethic, and communication (as mentioned in my recent article on growth, soft skills has become vital to development and maintaining a competitive edge) 

 It increases positive emotions, while reducing negative emotions and stress (...everyone loves a positive leader!)

• It changes our brains, increasing density [capacity] of gray matter linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy (also known as Emotional Intelligence)

 It allows concentrating completely on one thing at a time, by helping tune out distraction and improve memory and attention skills

 It facilitates response versus reaction (we become rigid when we think we know what to do - seeing situations clearly opens better paths to embracing new ideas)

 It increases self-regulation (thereby avoiding knee jerk reactions) and the ability to make decisions objectively

With nothing to lose, it's no surprise the most visionary leaders subscribe to a lifestyle rich in mindfulness.

**Article originally published in Golden Girl Finance