Why mindfulness matters in life and in business

Though it’s become a bit of a coin phrase, there is a clear connection between mindfulness and success. So clear, in fact, that Google offers their employees a 19-hour course on the topic (now through the Search Inside Yourself Institute).

Though mainly associated with meditation, mindfulness boils down to consciousness and making yourself aware of what is happening in the present moment. Studies have shown that those who practice mindfulness have reported less stress, a better ability to focus, increased cognitive function and a host of other benefits as well.

Start meditating. There is still some confusion about what meditation actually is and I think the best way to highlight this is to also explain what it is not. Meditation has no association with any religion and it does not require much more than a few moments (15, to be exact) and a dedication to giving it a try (find out how to start here). Meditation has been linked to numerous health benefits such as lowering cortisol levels, increased creativity, and better sleep and has also been shown to help business owners increase their profits by helping them to make better decisions. Bottom line: If you want to become a better leader, sit still and take a deep breath before you start the day.

Commit to focusing on what/who is in front of you. Though email and text are great ways to get information to and someone quickly, we are often inundated with so many words that important information such as tone and intention fall through the cracks. If we are being honest, most of us don’t actually read and digest every line which can also cause chaos and confusion. Instead of bouncing from one digital device to another, pick-up the phone or walk over the desk of a colleague and have a real conversation about important topics and get clear about what expectations and what is needed to achieve them. Put your phone away during lunch meetings and limit yourself to checking your email once every hour for 10 minutes.

Pay attention to yourself. This one might prove a bit difficult, but it is important to remember that mindfulness is about awareness, not judgment. Take a little notebook with you and jot down the moments you catch yourself feeling anxious, angry or overwhelmed. Sit with these feelings a moment and think about what is really bothering you instead of simply reacting to your feelings. Did a colleague telling you they need more time make you upset because you think they are lazy or scared because you don’t want to miss a deadline and lose a client? Are you really worried about public speaking and being “the center of attention” or do you fear being rejected? The more aware of your own feelings and triggers, the better you can control them and the faster you can change your energy. Considering that we set the tone in most of our interactions (and can certainly change it if we don’t) awareness of oneself is a powerful tool.