Why Is Mindfulness At Work Important?
November 5, 2012 5 Comments
When I began studying mindfulness I immediately began to see how mindfulness at work would benefit every employee and every leader in every organization.
Mindfulness is about awareness; I see it as the core of the practice. Therefore, mindfulness at work would first and foremost provide the opportunity for every leader and every employee to see more possibilities; to be more creative and yes – to experience greater enjoyment from their professional and personal life. Mindfulness practices provide (sometimes slowly – sometimes quickly), a greater awareness of self – not in an egotistical way but in an empowering way.
Mindful awareness is about seeing and listening and hearing and not making assumptions. As a business leader it offers a space that encourages more possibilities and these possibilities also generate answers that enable greater clarity (and I stress clarity – not confusion), about what path is the best path. As an individual, when you begin to have greater awareness of self you also gain a greater ability to see and care for those around you.
For leaders, mindfulness can encourage clarity about what you and your team define as your goals and success. Is success defined in the traditional business terms of ROI for the next quarter or the remainder of this fiscal year… or does mindfulness also provide us the opportunity to consider a strategies that might provide less immediate success but greater long-term harmony and happiness for everyone? Strategies that might include:
- Encouraging creativity
- Not harming the environment
- Educating your customer while also serving your customer
- Caring for your employees and giving them growth opportunities
Whether your awareness is focused on yourself – your team or your company, mindfulness at work provides practical and proven techniques on how you approach your world. And mindfulness grows as you grow. It allows you to adopt and integrate some mindful techniques today – and – as you are ready to build in more mindful techniques tomorrow, creating an ever-expanding opportunity as you cultivate greater awareness and understanding of these techniques.
One empowering realization I’ve had on my awareness journey happened when I met Lindsay Wagner who is an amazing facilitator of her “Quiet the Mind & Open the Heart” retreats. During our first meeting Lindsay described how our reactions and feelings are the result of our previous experiences and personal expectations rather than the circumstance itself.
As an example, what I learned from my discussion with Lindsay was that how I react to a car driver who cuts me off in traffic is a choice I get to make… and my reactions are largely dependent on my expectations. I can take it personally and get angry and upset, or I can choose to let it go and accept there was likely a good reason (like a medical emergency… or even a simple mistake). Similarly, in a business environment if my boss or employee or co-worker does something I don’t expect I have the choice to consider it likely wasn’t a personal attack (before I respond with anger). Upon reflection it’s most likely that we were not fully aware of each others needs and expectations (therefore that’s where I should focus my energy). As leaders and business people the key is to stay true to our core values and core competencies and to do our best every time as we balance professional success and processional expectations.
The practice of mindful leadership gives us these tools. It teaches us to acknowledge the present moment, recognizing our feelings and emotions and keeping them under control, especially when faced with highly stressful situations. The mindfulness communication training I find most helpful includes helping us:
- Become familiar with your needs, beliefs, values, and principles
- Listen and watch actively
- Evaluate but pause your judgment
- Stop making assumptions – know it’s better to ask questions
- Validate needs and objectives (before moving forward)
- Pause when you need… a break or feel triggered
- Engage passionately – not personally
- Manage expectations
- Empower the people around you – personally and professionally
When we are mindful, we’re aware of our presence and the ways we impact other people. We’re able to both observe and participate while also recognize the implications of our actions for the longer term.
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