Our modern world is filled distractions. From the moment we wake up we are bombarded with emails, messages, requests and notifications. This causes our attention to become scattered and prevents our ability to slow down and concentrate on making thoughtful decisions.
Given the speed of today’s ‘always on’ world, how are successful leaders able to thrive?
In a word, mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the practice of self-observation without judgment with a focus on our minds and inner voices. Mindfulness cultivates focus, clarity, creativity and compassion in the service of others. Those around a mindful leader see and feel that presence.
If you are interested in cultivating your mind’s innate abilities to lead and live with excellence, then here are three critical reasons not to wait:
1. Achieve Your Full Potential
You only have one life and you don’t want to spend it on auto-pilot. If you look at the date and wonder how 2016 is almost over when it seems like just last week you were looking forward to the fall, that’s a sign you might be missing something important – your life! Training your mind’s ability to notice when you are distracted and redirect your attention to the present moment means things won’t fly by in such a blur. You can live life more fully.
2. Develop Next Level Leadership Skills
Wishing doesn’t make it so. As with developing physical fitness, training the mind requires both high quality instruction and a commitment on your part to experiment and practice with what is taught. Practical applications that help you bring mindfulness into your everyday life in non-intrusive ways are a cornerstone of mindful leadership training.
3. Achieve Impact Through Compassionate Creativity
Leadership excellence is needed from every one of us, especially now. A leader is someone with influence; we all influence the people and communities in our lives. Whether leading a global organization, a team, a classroom or a family, we can take the responsibility for deciding to choose to lead with excellence – to be more focused, clear, creative, and compassionate. Mindful leadership training helps you become more of who you are by strengthening the mind’s innate capabilities, so you won’t be pulled into reactive, check-the-box decisions when creative, compassionate choices are needed.
An Exercise In Mindful Leadership
Ready to reach for excellence? Training you mind requires the same discipline and commitment that training your body requires. If you want a taste of what would be different, try this experiment: Sit quietly and bring your attention to the sensations of your body. You might notice that you are feeling warm or cold, or you might notice you are hungry or full. Maybe you notice that your back is sore, or you have a headache. There is no need to fix anything right now, just be open and curious about what your body is trying to tell you. After a few moments, you might realize that your mind has been pulled away from paying attention to your body’s sensations. Try to redirect your attention back to your body. Be firm and be self-compassionate.
This little taste might have shown you that our minds are constantly flitting around, even when we want/need to pay attention. It takes training to be focused, and to notice when your mind wanders and then to redirect it. When we are untrained, our mind is rarely where our body is, and so we miss the connections to ourselves, others, and the environment that can only be experienced in the present moment. This is how we begin to miss our lives, to be less than our best selves, to live on autopilot.