Mindfulness for Leaders
Mindfulness is the ability to bring awareness into every moment of our lives so we become much more present and aware of what we are sensing, thinking and doing in each moment and can observe the consequences of our actions.
Through mindfulness we are able to pay attention to what is happening now without judging it – rather than being preoccupied with thoughts, plans, fears or evaluating ourselves or others. We can enjoy life to the full.
As Leaders, Mindfulness can give us the ability to observe situations dispassionately, to see what we are doing & respond intentionally rather than reactively. This improves our ability to manage ourselves and others.
Leaders continually encounter situations that are full of tension or conflict. Resolving these situations often requires a different perspective. Mindfulness helps us to connect with the tension or conflict but not be reactive to it, enabling new perspectives to emerge. We can begin to see things we previously missed, overlooked or avoided.
Mindfulness also enables leaders to pay deep focused attention to what is really going on and what really matters, enhance presence and authenticity therefore inspiring others, reduce stress responses and reactivity and foster deep appreciative listening – so others feel heard and acknowledged.
Mindful practice encourages us to let go of old, unhelpful patterns and habits, enabling us to be more in touch with our resourceful and creative selves and as leaders we will find more fun and joy in our work.
Five tips for developing a more Mindful approach
1. Experience something fully
Think about something that you do day in and day out without thinking. It might be drinking a cup of tea, logging into your email or having a shower. Next time you do this, try doing it mindfully. Don’t do it any differently – but just notice every aspect of it – tune into all of your senses. What are you really seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting?
Experience every moment.
2. Stand back from a frustrating situation
Next time you are in a traffic jam, or late for a flight or in a meeting that is running over time take the time to stand back and notice what is going on for you. Take just a moment to ask yourself what you are thinking and feeling – don’t judge it just notice it. See if you can tease out what thoughts and feelings are caused by the situation and what additional worries and angst you might be adding. Through mindful thought we can choose to sit with the discomfort but not let it overwhelm us.
Take a moment in your day to notice and relax. Take a deep breath in and out and notice what you see. Say to yourself – “I see ***** and I relax” (try timing this with the ‘I see’ on the in breath and ‘I relax’ on the out breath). Notice something else that you see and repeat the process, and do this once more. Now notice something you hear and say to yourself “I hear ***** and I relax”, repeat this twice more – and then repeat the whole process with a sensation you feel. Once you’ve cycled through these three senses start again with what you see but this time notice two things before moving onto hearing and feeling. And finally see, hear and feel one thing. If you want to shut your eyes that’s fine or you can keep them open.
4. Do something differently
Sticking with the same patterns of behaviour can cause us to run on auto-pilot – if we change something we will suddenly become more aware. Try sitting in a different chair in a meeting or to watch TV or stand up when you are taking a phone call or hold the phone to the other ear – and notice what you experience. Think about other patterns that you might be able to interupt in order to become more aware.
Continue finding ways to react to your thoughts differently. Choose to let a thought go or take the time to understand where it has come from and how it is functioning without getting caught up in it. STOP is a great acronym to remember this.
S Stop what you are doing
T Take a breath
O Observe (your body and mind sensations)
*Fisher, T. (2005) ‘Beginner’s mind: cultivating mediator mindfulness’
Notice what a difference this makes to you.
If you’d like to know more about Mindfulness and Mindful Leadership please contact us.