Be Mindful of the Gap…it Exists.

‘… if your trajectory hasn’t positively changed, it is most likely because you’re too busy working to pay attention to this digital dharma.’

If you think the recent trend of being a Mindful Leader, may follow the path of many other corporate “key to success” fads…don’t think again. The growing wave espousing Mindful Leadership is so much more than the latest kitschy, quote generator, spewing spam into your inbox, Facebook©, and Twitter©. Those messages are super-charged with enlightened thoughts, using carefully crafted graphics of Gandhi, Mandela, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Jesus and many others with their ancient, yet new age quotes. In myriad ways, we are being connected with digital mentors across the universe, coaching us on how to be outstanding.

They move us to get focused, to be aware, and find the quiet space. They gently compel us to lean out, and find Zen in all we do. Everything is possible, as long as you remain calm and be present. The pathway to the C suite becomes emblazoned with quick quips and quotes describing the ‘10 holy steps to greatness’. It is all in your path, if you listen to your heart.

Mindful Leadership guides are sprouting up organically in all media: blogs, books, articles, are pouring into the ether. There are apps, to help you center your way to greatness and within the physical world, meditation rooms, and yoga classes are available in many corporate offices. All of this is designed to calm the noise and enable people to reset and become one with everything.

The evidence would suggest that if your trajectory hasn’t positively changed, it is likely because you are too busy working and not paying attention to all this digital dharma. The wisdom is flowing like the mystical and powerful Ganges itself, so why are you not listening? Actually, I apologize. I have no idea why your trajectory hasn’t changed – that would be judgmental. So rather than let all that negative energy block your chakras and keep you from succeeding, lean forward a little and listen. What do you have to lose?

One who is Mindful believes that the most effective use of their time is to ensure that whatever they are doing right now is the most important thing.

Imagine a day where you spend your time on activities you are deeply passionate about, and you were able to fully concentrate on that one key opportunity. A day when you made the people around you feel valued and worthy; a day when it was not all about you; a day when you managed to decrease your carbon footprint and reduce your blood pressure. Many may have stopped reading right about here, thinking this promise of Corp-utopia, is naïve or too good to be true. However, if you are willing to be open, you may find that those Mindful principles can propel you further ahead than traditional methods.

A Mindful Leader has the ability to be present. They believe that the most effective use of their time is whatever they are doing right now. For a moment, consider that by choosing to be completely focused on that plan, on that employee, or a child, means that you are taking great care to create a foundation that enables a better possibility for great things to happen. In fact, in today’s tumultuous environment, you cannot afford to give anything you do a half-hearted effort. Be the Change.

Spiritual leaders, modern philosophers, even Oprah Winfrey, who dedicates a good portion of her OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) Sunday air time to help people find and listen to their souls[1], are shouting the message to live in the now. Check out Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin© blog or read Howard Schultz’s book, Onward and you will experience examples of Mindful Leadership in action. What could be wrong with paying attention to what you are doing at this moment? Imagine the effect you would have on someone by listening intently to what they have to say. How much rework could be avoided by giving up a little (or a lot) of multi-tasking? How many of your relationships would be more functional and produce better results, while reducing stress and creating value? I think this quality is one we should embrace fiercely.

A Mindful Leader is aware of the negative power of ego. They refuse to be blinded by limiting beliefs, fears, self-doubt, or an irrational lack of confidence and compassion for others. This ability to see past the ego lifts them to the head of the pack. A leader with this ability acts naturally. They are unencumbered and move deftly between problems and opportunities, solving one challenge at a time. Their decisions are pure and based on real evidence or clear intuition. They can see the picture clearly without the dingy filters, added on by the ego; filters that change the vision by distracting with fear and obstructing focus.

The qualities of a Mindful Leader can also be found in one of my favorite books on building a great business and great followership: Good to Great[2] by Jim Collins. Collins’ characteristics of a Level 5 leader are in my opinion, representative of a Mindful Leader. A Level 5 leader is selfless, operates from a place of service and is focused on creating a foundation that supports the present and future success of the business. They are ‘modest, self-effacing and understated’. Most importantly, they are grateful for the team, while always remaining fully accountable. Read the book to see how focus and the effects of clear vision, help create great situations.

Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People[3] could also be used to describe the habits of Mindful Leaders. The qualities required to be proactive; to understand where you want to be; to focus on yourself and ensure you know who you are, are dependent on being able to focus, release your ego and act genuinely. Through these actions you are able to progress and create mutually beneficial situations. You understand the power of the collective spirit and you leverage those actions, qualities, and gifts to evolve and constantly improve yourself and your teams.

Those were just a couple of examples of the fact that being a Mindful Leader is more than a trend and the concepts are not new. Although many of us will nod our heads on the importance of creating a space from the noise, not as many will practice it. We are distracted by our deadlines; by the pressures of our environment; by the need to be a super-person at work and at home. We focus on the doing and we forget the why, the what, and for whom we are doing it for. We leverage a history of past mistakes and a possible fear of the future to guide us. Mindful Leadership asks you to stop those practices and try something different. So what do you have to lose? Let’s be present and aware of now. We will pay attention, and be of service to others. We will treat our neighbor how we want to be treated. We will focus on what we are passionate about. We will be accountable and support the growth of those around us and through all of that positive energy that we generate; we will improve our results and our relationships.

While there is so much more to say on this topic, I will leave you to ponder what has been read up to now. While there is plenty of information on Mindful Leadership out there in the ether, if I may, I would suggest the following books below. They are concise and clear and provide a very simple and honest explanation on the keys to Mindful Leadership. These books have also inspired me to understand more of this “trend” and I seek to apply the principles of Mindful Leadership whenever possible.

Suggested readings to help with understanding Mindful Leadership

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success – Deepak Chopra

The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz

And a few final thoughts:

“Cast out judgment and you are saved. So what is preventing you from casting it out?”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations Book 12

“When you know better, you do better”

Maya Angelou

[1] Super Soul Sunday – Oprah Winfrey Network

[2] Good to Great – HarperCollins Publishers

[3] The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Free Press / Simon & Schuster

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