In order to be fully present, engaged, and empathetic at work, managers must practice the art of mindful leadership. After years of speaking worldwide, I have noticed that managers and leaders who are mindful are more effective in their jobs because they often have the ability to focus on the moment, recognize their own inner world, and keep their feelings and emotions in check even in the midst of extreme stress.
Mindfulness can be practiced in many ways. First, there is the deliberate practice through mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation does not have to be hard. Start simple by focusing on the breath, clearing the mind, and counting your breath. When the mind deviates and thinks of something else, just calmly bring your mind back to the breath.
Second there is this method that is more seamless and applies to almost anything you do. Be extra conscious when you are typing an important email, conversing with a colleague, writing a report, exercising or doing housework. Cooking is especially good as a mindfulness practice as long as you focus on the preparation of the food rather than let the mind wander. Personally, I find that it is so important to practice slowing down and being present in every day “boring” work. The more I am being present, the more I find fulfillment in even the simplest thing I do.
You can also practice mindfulness while working out. One of the reasons why I enjoy playing sports or exercising so much is because it can be an effective method to develop mindfulness and self-awareness. For example, when I perform a pull-up, I fully focus on how my palms grip the bar, how much tension there is on my back, how I breathe as I execute the move or whether I move on a straight plane using my arms only or a curve motion using momentum (as how crossfitters do but I prefer the strict calisthenic method).
My mind is fully focused on exercise and how my body feels. When I play squash, my mind is fully focused on the game – where is the ball bouncing, how fast it’s going, where is my opponent, how much time I have to reach the ball, what shot to play to put the ball furthest away from the opponent, my fitness level, my breath and so on. Such practices strengthen mindfulness and our ability to address our thoughts, emotions and actions.
There are many ways to seamlessly incorporate mindfulness in your daily life. At first, you might feel a little resistance towards the practice. You might find yourself distracted and uncomfortable in doing nothing but listening to the slow, steady rhythm of your breath. Doing nothing seems to be counterintuitive to what we have learned about productivity and success. However, this time when you clear out your brain is so important to allow it to function optimally.
Start with one slow deliberate breath and gradually build up your practice. The more you practice mindfulness, the more you will benefit from it. By fostering compassion and empathy, mindfulness can lessen emotional fatigue and boost receptivity to novel ideas, making you a leader and manager people want to collaborate with.
Want to be a more mindful leader? Spread the importance of mindfulness at work by booking an online seminar via The Mental Rockstar Academy Virtual Events. Let’s talk about how you can boost your team’s performance by cultivating self-awareness and mindful leadership.