As Spiderman’s uncle said,“With great power comes great responsibility.” This immense responsibility has led many successful leaders to discover the benefits of starting their day with mindfulness.
From CEOs Jack Dorsey to Arriana Huffington and Jeff Weiner. As well as basketball coach Phil Jackson and team leaders Michael Jordan and Tom Brady. Also creative geniuses like Jerry Seinfeld to George Lucas and the Beatles. For all of them, mindfulness has been their key to achieving success.
In this article I’ll share how mindfulness helps leaders succeed, what benefits can be gained, and how to implement mindfulness in your life.
Why Successful Leaders Need Mindfulness
Being the boss and being at the top of your field comes with a lot of pressure. The stakes have never been higher and it all depends upon your state of mind and also mental performance.
Leaders have to be aware of everything under their purview, stay self-motivated and motivate others. They must also be focused on the future without losing sight of the present.
Successful leaders must be mindful of the details and the big picture. It’s enough to drive anyone mad. This is why practicing and developing mindfulness is essential.
By practicing meditation in the morning and mindfulness throughout the day, leaders can sustainably perform at their peak.
Successful Leaders Use Mindfulness for Focus
Leaders are always juggling a million little moving parts in their heads. Always thinking and always trying to improve. This can often make focusing difficult. Also our mind becomes less organized. We become scatterbrained, forgetful and can even burn out.
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on one thing and putting your whole attention there. It is practiced not only in meditation, but in every task we do.
Some people still believe that multitasking is a skill. But all the studies show that it doesn’t exist. Instead of doing multiple things at once, we really just jump back and forth between tasks quickly. And it turns out, we do those multiple things much worse than if we just focused on one at a time.
By practicing mindfulness, we expand our attention span, we improve our focus and concentration, and our mind can become calmer and less chaotic. This of course leads to better sleep, more awareness of our thoughts and actions, and less prone to bad habits.
Mindfulness for Making Better Decisions
Clear-eyed, sober decision-making is essential when you’re a leader. Whereas getting bogged down in worries, doubts and fears can derail a company.
There are many things we can do to clear our head: swimming, running, walking, yoga, or the less healthy drugs and alcohol. But while all of these things can bring temporary clarity, only mindfulness retrains our brain to always be clear and decisive.
Mindfulness helps us become aware of our own thoughts, feelings, impulses and decision-making process. We can focus more intently on problems at hand and we can block out irrelevant information more easily.
Mindfulness helps us be more conscious of every angle of a problem, and more and intentional with our decision-making. Furthermore, we become more aware why we’re making a decision, and how it will affect our organization in the short-term and the long-term.
This higher awareness is really just tapping into our highest intelligence. Our blind spots disappear and we can make decisions that save money, increase profits, and also improve the lives of workers and customers alike.
Successful Leaders Use Mindfulness for Less Stress
Brain scans and studies show that the more aware we become, the less stressed we become. This is because we become more identified as the witness of our thoughts and experiences rather than the recipient of said experiences.
Mindfulness creates a distance between us and what is happening to us. Just like we can look back on something terrible from a few years ago and laugh about it, mindfulness gives us that big picture view right now.
This slight change in perspective is incredibly profound. Instead of a stressful thing happening to us, we can experience it as an exciting challenge to overcome. Instead of being stressed, we notice stress. Rather than being angry, we observe anger.
By being mindful and not identifying with stress or negative emotions, stress is immediately diminished. By simply observing our thoughts and feelings, they no longer have a hold of us. They become just passersby in our constantly changing mind.
We stop being lost in thought the moment we become conscious of our thoughts. The more mindful we are of our thoughts and emotions, the less they affect us. It is like stepping off a rollercoaster and just watching from a distance. We see the rollercoaster, but we aren’t screaming with every drop and turn.
Successful Leaders Use Mindfulness for Creativity
When we practice mindfulness, that is observing without thinking or labeling, our entire brain lights up with activity. Different parts of the brain start communicating that don’t normally do so. We are able to see problems from different perspectives and come up with innovative solutions.
By getting out of our head, big ideas have space to enter. We can be fearless with creativity, unafraid to try new and bold ideas.
We can use mindfulness to focus longer and more intently on problems. Then we can clear our minds and be fully present so we can find the greatest solution. Our intuitive wisdom and higher intelligence can get to work when we can pause our lower thinking brain functions. This is what they mean when they say the best ideas come out of nowhere.
To this day, scientists do not understand how creativity works. The most creative people do not understand where their ideas come from. But many recurring themes have emerged.
Creativity tends to strike us like a bolt of lightning when we are not thinking. Whether it’s playing music (Albert Einstein), going for a walk (Steve Jobs), or sitting under a tree (Sir Issac Newton). All great insights tend to happen when we’re being mindful and present. Practicing mindfulness gives us access to this state of mind 24/7.
Mindfulness for Communicating Better
With mindfulness, you’re not just more aware of what’s happening around you. You also become more aware of yourself. This is the cornerstone of communication.
Through mindfulness, we become more conscious of our words, our inflection, and our body posture. We move, speak and act with greater intentionality for maximum impact.
We also become more aware of how the people we are communicating with are receiving our message. Our relationships become stronger and we become expert communicators.
People will notice if we are not fully present when we communicate. This is literally where the term “absent minded” comes from. We are physically present but our mind is elsewhere. Every little thought we have is subconsciously picked up by the person we are speaking with.
Mindfulness helps us be more present so that our thoughts, words and actions all align. We give our full attention and our entire being is conveying the unified message we wish to present.
Mindfulness for Health, Well Being and Relationships
When you feel well, you think and perform better too. And not just in the boardroom. Mindfulness helps us make smarter, healthier decisions too. This is because more conscious, less habitual thinking helps us reduce addictive behavior.
When we are less stressed, we don’t turn to food, alcohol or laziness to feel better. Instead we make decisions that will make us feel better now and later.
We sleep better when we can stop our mind from racing at night. This gives us more energy throughout the day. Practicing meditation is like the ultimate power nap too. It creates a deeply restful state for the brain and gives us a huge energy boost.
Feeling great helps us be there more for others as well. With more energy, we can spend more time tending to our relationships and caring for others. When we are self-absorbed, tired and lethargic, doing things for others tends to be a struggle.
Practicing mindfulness also helps us develop greater compassion. By being more aware of others and their needs, we increase our empathy. It helps us get out of our heads, become more confident and less self conscious.
For all these reasons, busy successful leaders have found that mindfulness helps them maintain greater health and relationships.
Money Can’t Buy Happiness
Why would someone who has everything meditate? It’s hard, it’s not as fun as yachting, and it also takes up precious time.
But what successful people have found is that investing in their happiness pays off the biggest dividends.
Every pleasure in life is only temporary. And if you try to chase pleasures, you’ll only come to find that they end up bringing more pain than pleasure.
A chocolate cake is great for a few moments in your mouth. But you’ll get sick if you never stop eating cake.
Jet skis are super fun, but even if you tried to do that nonstop, eventually you would get bored.
A big purchase only brings momentary pleasure and then you need something else to buy.
Chasing pleasures from external sources can never bring true and lasting happiness. You will always need more and more and it will never satisfy you.
Only mindfulness can bring you lasting, deep, joy and peace. We all know that happiness comes from within. But it takes mindfulness to fully realize this truth.
How to Start Incorporating Mindfulness into Your Day
Establishing a daily meditation routine is essential for developing the habits of mindfulness. This is a great resource for people new to meditation.
Every activity we do can be a mindfulness exercise. Simply practice being fully present. Put all of your attention on what you’re doing in that moment. Notice what you’re seeing, hearing, feeling, etc… By putting your awareness into your senses, you’re getting out of your head and into the now.
Check in with your body every morning. Slowly scan it from the top of your head to your toes. Get in the habit of noticing if you’re holding onto stress or tension anywhere.
Take conscious breaths throughout the day. Just take a moment to check in. Notice how you’re breathing. Is it calm, deep and slow. Or is it choppy and irregular. Feel every sensation in your breath. Feel the air coming in your nostrils, going down the back of your throat, expanding your belly, and then coming back out.
The more presence we bring into our lives, the more mindful we become. We create a spaciousness in our mind that lowers our stress and boosts our happiness. Even just small moments can break a habitual or negative stream of thoughts. It helps us snap back into the present moment where problems and stress do not exist. These moments of stillness may start small, but they will multiply and expand over time. Eventually, your whole life will be peaceful, regardless of the events in your life.
Email [email protected] for executive meditation and mindfulness coaching.
Check out this video on mindfulness.
Get peace and calm delivered.