There’s no denying that ‘mindfulness’ is the latest buzzword in the workplace. While it might have been considered a little ‘woo-woo’ a few years ago, right now everyone from HR managers to founders and CEOs are talking about it.
But what does it actually mean? And more importantly how can we look beyond the hype and incorporate it into our daily lives in a meaningful way?
In a nutshell, being ‘mindful’ is having self-awareness and attention of our own emotions in any moment. It’s about being present, so that we’re able to respond without judgment.
Recent Western science has been able to identify three key benefits of mindfulness, that will help you as an individual and as a leader. In the video below, we’ll dive into these three benefits.
Benefit 1: Focus
We live in a world today where distractions are in any given moment are seemingly unavoidable. We’re constantly being distracted by the never-ending stream of smartphone notifications, emails and phone calls, ironically designed to make us ‘more productive’.
The result? It’s easy to fall into the trap of being completely reactive. As opposed to focusing on our own work, we can spend our days ticking stuff off other people’s to do list.
In reality, the most productive people are those who are able to focus on one task for an extended period of time (without letting themselves be constantly distracted by others).
Practicing mindfulness can help improve this skill, as it stops our minds wandering out into the distance, and strengthens our ability to focus on one single task.
Benefit 2: Stress Resilience
Our subconscious mind is designed to protect us from perceived threat or harm – most people understand this as the ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ mentality. While this is essential in certain dangerous or life threatening situations, day-to-day this response mechanism can actually be more harmful.
If we live in ‘flight or fight’ mode we are constantly being reactive: responding to our own feelings in any given moment, or the actions of those around us.
Practising mindfulness allows us to calm down that fight or flight response, so that we can think more clearly and be more proactive, as opposed to reactive.
Benefit 3: Empathy
If you think about the very best manager you’ve ever had, chances are that you really felt that they cared for you and they showed kindness on a common and constant basis. They saw what was best for you in any moment, and had a genuine interest in your future.
Practising mindfulness can help you strengthen this sense of empathy. It can give you the clarity you need to see things from other people’s point of view, and build trust with your team so they ultimately want to follow you.
A team who look forward to seeing you and coming into work every day will be far more productive than a team who wake up with dread on a monday morning, so never underestimate the power of empathy.
So the question remains…how you develop mindfulness? Just as when you go to the gym to build muscle, mindfulness is also a muscle that you gradually strengthen.
One simple way to start doing this is by simply taking three minutes out of each and every day to practice mindfulness.
Use this time to sit, close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath – breathing four seconds in and four seconds out. Doing so is proven to reduce stress and anxiety, leaving you more present in any moment, and enabling you to build deeper connections with the people that you work with.