Mindfulness can easily be thought of as a retreat from the outsized challenges leaders often face. But when things get tough, that’s when your mindfulness practice actually shines. Here’s how taking the time to ask yourself what’s actually happening can make or break your work day.
1) Things get hot in a meeting and emotions take over
Response: If you ask yourself, “What outcome do I truly want here?” you may be able to see your true aim more clearly and defuse the excess emotion that may be getting in the way. It’s not about doing away with passion and emotion; it’s about assessing how to spend the precious resource of your—and everyone else’s—mental energy.
2) Distraction keeps you from accomplishing important things
Response: When you have that feeling of being lost, you can inquire, “Where is the most important place for my focus and energy to be right now?” To help promote deep focus, try creating a 90-minute block on your calendar (say in the form of a faux doctor’s appointment)—that is your untouchable focus time.
3) A negative mindsets shut down situations
Response: Ask questions of yourself and others that lead to solutions or at least greater understanding, not blame and recrimination: “What can we learn? What’s possible here? What are our strengths? What can we build on? What can we leave behind?”
4) You take over too much—perhaps because you want to be the hero who fixes everything
Response: This is a prescription for burning yourself out while undermining others’ opportunities to learn and become empowered. You need to ask, “Why am I really doing this? Does ‘helping’ make me feel important?”
You may come to see that you’re less overwhelmed and the team is more capable when you delegate authority to others.
5) You regularly interrupt people
Response: Oops! There goes that hair trigger again. See if you can use your bodily senses as an early warning system to interrupt hasty outbursts. Ask yourself, “What happens in my body the moment before I interject?”
See if you can step back and ride out the impulse to interrupt.