Fitness Training for the Brain!
Mindfulness means you can better manage your thoughts. It can also support you in coming off “auto-pilot”, or in other words, simply doing what you’ve always done because that is what's easy and comfortable and gives you a certain amount of pleasure! How many of you (myself included) have had a simple thought, which then quickly becomes a sentence, a chapter in a book, a whole book and then a movie!? Being mindful means you can observe these thoughts and let them pass without getting caught up in them; remember, you are not your thoughts - thoughts are not facts or reality.
Using mindful practice can mean you learn to respond, instead of just reacting. How would increasing your focus, calmness and clarity in daily life benefit you?
In my opinion, everyone can benefit from this! Especially leaders and managers in businesses, large or small, in terms of the ability to increase your:
- Focus - managing your attention when your mind wanders will mean you focus on those “big rocks”, in the words of Stephen Covey. Only if appropriate and time allows can you move to your pebbles and sand!
- Calmness - feeling less reactive to situations could prevent conflict, and avoid the need for those “difficult conversations”
- Clarity - see what is actually there, not what is imagined - it is about keeping things real and not allowing your inner voice to take over.
- Adaptability - deal with change and ambiguity by recognising what's important now, in the moment.
- Resilience - develop your self-compassion; be kind to yourself, then take care of others - put your oxygen mask on first!
- Productivity - increase your personal effectiveness. In my Working Smarter, Not Harder! blog I talk about not multi-tasking, instead focusing your attention on one thing! Although I do like to think I'm excellent at multi-tasking or "juggling", am I really..?
Realise when you're hurtling along at 100 miles an hour and not seeing or appreciating things around you;
Aspire to be “purposefully present” at least one more time each day than you are currently; and
Do train your brain - you, and those around you, will notice the difference!
I often refer to the power of language, and the words people use, when I'm facilitating management and leadership development workshops.
When I'm working with my clients, it always amazes me the number of people who tell me that they spend far too much time in ineffective meetings. When I respond with "Who is it that agrees you will attend?" or "What would happen if you just didn’t go?" I normally receive lots of blank looks.
I have to admit; I find it less than easy to switch off, and especially so when I'm at home! There can just always be something to do. I realised that the only time I actually do switch off is when I bake!
I was lucky enough to spend the majority of my summer in Kirkcudbright in Scotland. One day, on my way into town to get some new tyres on my car, I was confronted with the single track lane that I was driving along being completely blocked by a tractor, it’s trailer and some trees!
I appreciate that agile working doesn't suit everyone or every type of organisation, however I encourage anyone to consider an agile process for themselves and adopt an open, growth mindset where you can.