Work. We spend most of our lives there but rarely give thought to how or why, caught in a constant cycle of to do lists, interruptions and demands. If you’re feeling the strain as a leader, little wonder. Organisations and individuals are struggling to keep up with the pace of constant change. Research from prof Mark Williams at Oxford University’s Mindfulness centre suggests that we’re more stressed today than we were 40 years ago. Workplace studies into mindful leadership demonstrate promising results suggesting a realistic antidote to the chaos. So how do you become a mindful leader? Here are our top 3 hacks.
It’s easy to get caught in an endless cycle of ‘doing, doing, doing’ at work. We jump from one task to the next, firmly focused on the ‘To do’ list with not enough time to squeeze it all in. we forget to ‘be’. When we do that our creativity shuts down, innovation heads for the door and we move onto auto-pilot. Mindfulness provides us with a choice, it gives us a way back into the present moment and a way of slowing down the onslaught of working life.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is being aware, being present in the moment without judgement. It’s about moving away from autopilot or the brain’s default mode network so that you notice what is happening as it is happening and it’s key for effective leadership.
Who is Using it & Why?
The last 15 years have seen an explosion of interest in workplace mindfulness. Devotees include Google, with their famous SIYLI programme, Salesforce, SAP, Honda, Deloitte, NHS, Spotify, UKSport and many others. Companies are using mindfulness to reduce stress, build resilience, increase emotional intelligence and create a happier, more productive workforce.
How to become a Mindful Leader: Our Top 5 Hacks
- Set an Intention to be More Mindful:
Set an intention to be more mindful at the beginning of the day. Whether you do it when you wake up or before you get to the office, create a mindset that prepares you for the day.
2. Switching On:
It’s so easy to turn on your computer and get drawn into everything you read, to feel the beginnings of a stress cycle as you scan row upon row of emails. The next time you walk into the office, try this before you make a start. Sit down and close your eyes, feel the chair supporting you, your feet on the ground, the contact with the earth. Notice what’s happening in your mind; are you calm, hurried or tense? Just notice, don’t judge or try to change whatever is going on. How does your body feel? What’s here? In this moment? As you breath, say to yourself “In” as you inhale and “Out” as you exhale. Do this for 3 minutes. If your mind wanders, or you become distracted by thoughts, notice without getting caught up, saying to yourself “This is thinking”. Give yourself a pat on the back for notIcing and then come back to the breath. This is a great way to ground yourself before starting your day and also an excellent practice if you find yourself in the thick of things and feeling overwhelmed as the day goes on.
3. Create Opportunities for Mindfulness:
See if it’s possible to park the car further away from the office or get off the bus or the train a stop early using the rest of the journey for a mindful walk. Notice how your body feels as you walk, the shift of weight from left to right, the sensation of the ground under your feet, supporting you. Take time to be in the moment by noticing what’s around you, the sensations of the wind on your face, the architecture of the buildings, the sunlight falling upon the leaves in the trees. And if it’s possible, maximize your walk by using any parks or green space along the way. We know from research that walking in a green space gives an even greater return on your stress busting investment for your walk. If this isn’t possible, take a mindful walk between meetings to build informal mindfulness practice into your day.
4. Disrupt Autopilot with a Regular Mindful Pause:
Disrupt habitual thinking. and set yourself a reminder to pause and be throughout the day. These mini check-ins are a great way of reminding yourself to take time out, bringing your mind and body back into the moment. Try setting a gentle alarm on your phone every hour or using one of the many apps available that sound a bell (Zazen is a great free example of this). When you hear the reminder, just stop whatever you’re doing, pause and breath, checking in with what’s going on in your mind and body. Ask yourself; ‘What’s here, right now?”
5. Create Tech Free Meetings: Many of the companies that we work with have opted for tech free meetings. That means no devices switched on at the meeting? Why? Well, we know from research that multi tasking impairs your decision making, reduces flow and increases your error rate. That’s a fairly compelling reason to disconnect your tech and re-connect with your colleagues
So are you a Mindful leader? Visit our resources page to find out more https://planetpositivechange.com/how-mindful-are-you/
We deliver bespoke Mindfulness Leadership and Mindfulness at work training in-house and open courses offering 1 day, half day, bitesize training sessions along with conference speaking. We’re also currently researching the impact of mindfulness and compassion on leadership efficacy. To find out more about our research, mindful leadership or mindfulness training contact us at email@example.com or visit our events page https://planetpositivechange.com/events-2/
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