Mindfulness is a popular buzzword at present and many studies extol the benefits of mindfulness in beating stress and improving decision-making.
What is mindfulness and is it just another fancy trend in workplace training that might not go the distance?
Mindfulness is the opposite of mindlessness.
Mindfulness is about learning to pay focused attention to the task at hand in the present moment, and raising your self-awareness so that you can rise above your ego and make balanced decisions.
Mindfulness training delivers a calm detachment that allows you to see an issue or person more clearly without personal pride or snap judgements clouding your thinking.
It frees the mind from old patterns and thereby spurs a whole new level of creativity that can revolutionise your management performance.
As a manager, do you want to be mindful or do you want to be mindless? When you put it like that you start to appreciate the incredible importance of learning mindfulness techniques.
But it’s not all about you. Your mindfulness rubs off on others.
As wonderful as it might be to be happier, more productive and less stressed in your job, mindfulness has benefits that go far beyond your personal satisfaction.
As a manager your key role is to get the most out of your team and some exciting studies have shown that when a manager practices mindfulness techniques their employees also show less signs of emotional exhaustion in the workplace, as well as higher job satisfaction and performance. Mindfulness has also been shown to raise empathy and improve social relationships which are hugely important for a healthy team dynamic.
You’ve already experienced mindfulness by accident. Now it’s time to learn how to have it on tap.
Many think that mindfulness begins with trying meditation for the first time, but when you think about it, you already know what mindfulness is because sometimes you stumble on it by accident!
Think of those occasional days where you walk around in a state of calm clarity; the days where you can hear dissenting opinion or criticism without a flare of fear, annoyance or anger; the days where the stress and buzz and clamour of all the other stuff going on in your life just stills and lets you focus on exactly what you’re doing. Aren’t they great days?
Practicing mindfulness is about learning how to access that feeling of calm centeredness and lack of distraction or ego at any moment– so you can tap into it whenever you feel the stress building, finding it hard to concentrate or your ego is being challenged.
According to Stephen Mackenzie, a celebrated psychologist and author on mindfulness at work, mindfulness is “focusing our attention on what is, rather than being distracted by what isn’t.” Mindfulness is something you can definitely learn.
Some mindfulness techniques to adopt at work:
1. Mindfulness is total focus. It’s not dashing from task to task or finding your mind drifting to other things and losing focus. To attain this focus, approach your day in a way that encourages a state of flow and focus. Limit multi-tasking; schedule blocks of time to focus on one thing at a time and when you feel your thoughts drifting, breathe deeply and re-centre your mind on the task at hand.
2. Mindfulness is freedom of thought. It’s not rigid thinking or limiting yourself by thinking ‘but that’s the way it’s always been done.’ Set your mind free to challenge the status quo and be enthusiastic about new ideas. Try to think about everyday tasks as if you’ve only just encountered them for the first time so that you can decide the best way to approach them.
3. Mindfulness avoids pointless worry. Many managers spend countless hours worrying about things that may never happen or more importantly, worrying about them in a way that doesn’t produce positive results. There’s definitely room for a manager to think about what might go wrong in order to plan for contingencies, but when you’ve a worry gnawing away in your head, but do little to resolve it, then this is pointless worrying. Mindfulness allows you to step off the ‘what-if?’ hamster wheel by bringing a state of calm and perspective to a stressed brain.
4. Mindfulness is appreciating when your brain is stuck. Mindfulness is not ‘spinning the wheels’ on a task and just getting yourself further bogged in the mud. Having a mindful approach allows you to notice when you’re stuck, and allows you to detach and ‘free up’ the brain by doing something calming; Maybe taking a walk around the office, deep breathing or doing a 2-minute meditation. This provides a welcome release from the feeling of panic that sets in when you can’t see your way through a problem.
Practicing mindfulness can decrease your stress and improve your performance. Your mindfulness as a manager can even help those in your team to enjoy their work more and be more productive. With mindfulness training sweeping the corporate world it may be time to ask yourself a question: As a manager, do you want to be mindful or do you want to be mindless?
At Excel Communications we have delivered leadership and management training over 30 years, on four continents and in multiple languages. You can view the results we get for clients here. Alternatively call us on +44 (0) 1628 488 854