Mindfulness and Focusing on What Matters
You may have heard of mindfulness. It’s a form of meditation that businesses are beginning to embrace as a way to help employees become more efficient, productive and - most importantly - happy.
As a leader, mindfulness can help you a great deal. With so much to think about in terms of people management, strategy, and your own to-do list, it’s easy to get lost in the quagmire of each day’s work.
Here’s a few reasons mindfulness can help you focus on what matters and become the best leader you can be.
You’ll find it addictive
Mindfulness is all about getting into a routine each day where you rid your brain of wasteful thoughts. By centering yourself on your breathing, you’ll quickly fall into a meditative state that relaxes and focuses your mind.
This technique works best with repetition, and you’ll find yourself looking forward to your mindful minutes each day. It’s addictive, and that’s a very good thing indeed if mindfulness is to become an important part of your daily routine as a leader.
You’ll get better at self-regulation
The Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) is the part of your brain that is affected most positively by mindfulness. And this is good news, because your ACC is the one thing that can stop you from wasting time on superfluous activities.
Working out whether you’re productive or simply ‘busy’ is incredibly difficult, but the more you work that ACC, the more your mind will naturally prevent you from getting lost in time-sapping activities like email and web browsing.
You’ll get better at listening
There’s a real skill involved in becoming a great listener. Some are born with it, while most of us have to work at it - particularly when in a position of authority, where there’s the temptation to be the person consistently in the spotlight.
Mindfulness works as a filter; you’ll learn to filter out the things that shouldn’t be occupying your mind and listen instead to what matters. During the process, that’s your breathing, but you’ll probably find that you carry the same ethos into your working life.
You’ll begin to listen to people properly. The intricacies of their questions or proposals will become far clearer and, as a result, they’ll immediately spot that you’re fully engaged.
A leader who can listen properly will go very far indeed.
You’ll let go of stress
I’m under no illusion: with leadership comes stress. It’s part and parcel of the job, and something you’ll simply have to accept when you follow this particular career path.
A degree of stress isn’t a bad thing at all - it’s what keeps us on our toes and ensures we never stop learning; but too much can have a seriously bad impact on your health.
By investing some of your time in mindfulness, the simple process of just closing your eyes and deep breathing will alleviate you of any stress that is becoming burdensome.
I’m a big fan of mindfulness. Combined with healthy eating and plenty of exercise, it has transformed my leadership capabilities, and I have a feeling it’ll do the same for you.