I am thrilled that two of the areas I am most passionate about are hot: Boards and Mindfulness! Since 2005, when I launched my business, “Lead From Your Core,” it has been my greatest desire to raise awareness and consciousness in the workplace at the highest level of the organization and with anyone I could support in the pursuit of focus, clarity, balance and harmony in their lives.
I can’t say it has been an easy journey to invite leaders of organizations to associate business with mindfulness, yet it is obvious that being more mindful each day makes us more effective thinkers and leaders of our families and organizations– and more fulfilled. Mindfulness is to be aware, to be present in the moment of speaking, listening and acting. Mindfulness is to be our true essence.
I am an achiever, and I have been one throughout my life. I have always integrated mindfulness into my ambition and drive. In fact, I believe they are naturally intertwined.
I have attended silent retreats, gone to spas, read a lot of books by Deepak Chopra and the Dalai Lama, and I have spent a lot of time outdoors. I also integrated meditation into my life back in the late 90s. Meditation, just being still, has helped me over the years to be more grounded regardless of what occurs on the outside and remain more centered through uncertainty. I have taken it upon myself to be alive in as many moments as I can and to be present to the gift of being alive by being aware of my heart beating, my breath, tasting toothpaste when I brush my teeth, really listening to my mother, my husband and my friends, and it has fueled me. I can do more with greater focus and clarity, and I have more energy. I made it my commitment to support others who can help us shift the way we lead and live. Lately, it is becoming clear that I am not alone.
At this year’s Dreamforce, Salesforce’s worldwide conference, Arianna Huffington was invited by Marc Benioff to lead a meditation for ~2,000 people. On November 24th, Huffington tweeted “Five ways to embrace mindfulness at work – You don’t have to get into lotus pose under your desk to be mindful at work,” citing a Fast Company piece by Laura Vanderkam. Meditation is surely one of the first steps to being mindful, but embracing mindfulness doesn’t mean that we are not moving– rather that when we move, we are aware that we are moving and we become highly aware of who we are, how we act and how we communicate in any given situation. It is powerful!
This past Sunday, CBS 60 Minutes had a segment on “Mindfulness.” Anderson Cooper said, “I’m on mobile devices all day long,” and, “I feel like I could go through an entire day and not be present. It’s exhausting.”
It certainly is, since when we are not here in the now, we are not living as we have the innate wisdom to do. In being connected 24/7, we are moving further away from being connected to the most important beings– our selves. There is nothing wrong with being connected to others, but it should not be at the expense of being connected to our selves!
As I watched 60 minutes, it was clear that a number of corporations, including Google, and politicians (Tim Ryan, who wrote the book A Mindful Nation) have realized that it is time to learn how to simply be in the present moment. Just watch a child before anything on the outside is pushed at them! What do you see? Children at a very early age are in awe of the moment– are present, observant and totally fulfilled in the moment.
In my opinion, mindfulness is not a big “should.” It is allowing ourselves to tap into our true potential. We are meant to be mindful, and it is a quality that we all can access. I believe it is innate within us and that over the years we have put layers that have taken us away from this innate state of being mindful.
Mindfulness in business – It is time
Let’s not be mindful just because it is popular and the “hot thing”, but because we realize that mindfulness allows us to be wiser.
Life is not compartmentalized. If we are open to being mindful, we embrace it in all sectors of our lives. We are not committing to being mindful just when we think it is the right time or the most appropriate place.
When I coach an executive, acting as their trusted confidante, a lot of my work is done walking and hiking without a smartphone being on so that they can be present to themselves, to me and their surroundings. By being connected, we get disconnected and forget to see and be in touch with the environment. It is not uncommon to ask my client what he or she saw as we walked and for my client to not have seen! A great leader observes (sees) and is in touch with his surroundings.
When I lead groups, everyone is invited to have their phones on vibration mode, to respect each other and to be fully present to me, the facilitator and the participants. The potential for creating and aligning together is elevated, as people are invited to listen. With a couple of my board clients, we have even started retreats with few minutes of silence.
Any judgments that we might have associated with mindfulness need to be dropped as the reality is that most human beings envision a harmonious way of living and a greater alignment within our organizations and in the workplace. Mindfulness helps us be intentional, aware, conscious thus more fulfilled, more rested and far more effective.
As one year comes to a close and another is about to begin, I challenge you to embrace mindfulness– not as an alternative to a thriving professional life, but as fuel to take your career and ambition to the next level. I invite you to spend some time this week considering the mindfulness practices linked to in this post and considering incorporating meditation, time spent outdoors without technology, etc. into your routine in the new year. We are not here to run towards something and to exist. We are here to live fully in the moment through ups and downs. Our intentional/mindful attitude towards everything makes the difference in feeling in alignment with ourselves and content.