A few months ago I began working with a trusted coach on my next act. I had two questions I wanted to explore.
- What’s next for me?
- How would I fit it in to my specialty?
After about six weeks, what became clear was that I was already incorporating a new things into my work but doing so without explicitly articulating what I was doing.
My new direction is Mindful Management. Now, everything I’ve been doing has required a focus, new attention and noticing, all crucibles of mindfulness but they’ve been implicit not explicit.
Beginning with my new white paper, I am making developing mindful managers explicit.
Here’s a taste of my new white paper.
A world of challenge and change makes us all vulnerable to anxiety, tension, and pressure.
Listen to the mood in your workplace and at home. People are feeling disenfranchised. Experience tells them they are devalued, excluded, or dismissed. Even if it’s an unintended consequence, people feel diminished, less than human.
Now, look inside you. Step back and notice the voice in your head. You probably noted it never stops. Analyze the voice closer and try to understand its’ need to get comfortable. It changes sides, flips its position, and leaps to different opinions adjusting continually. This is the incessant ‘mental noise’ that you hear about so often.
Most mental noise is not helpful—worrying, resenting, scheming, expressing frustration, disappointment, and annoyance with rejection. This is the underlying agitation that creates the climate that humans bring to every situation. See it in you and see it in others.
You can easily see this voice in action when you are angry with someone. Note how many times the inner voice tells that person off before you even see them. Again, this is the foundation we all use to shape the climate where we live and work.
Insight for Managers
The bar is raised for managers. They are responsible for productivity (and in today’s world) the well-being of others. To be a good manager, we must first manage ourselves well—impartial, unruffled, self-controlled, at work and home.
This requires the quality of mindfulness.
What is Mindful Management
Mindful management is when one brings the practice of mindfulness to management.
Mindfulness expert Jon Kabat Zinn says mindfulness is: “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” I have found that the best way to learn something new is to use the most straightforward language possible. And the simplest definition of mindfulness is noticing things. If you notice things, you are mindful. If you are not noticing, you are not mindful. Noticing is simply the heart of mindfulness.
You notice your team is edgy, short-fused, and distant. You notice your partner is tense and you’ve only been home two minutes. At a higher level of attention than most, you notice how your mood makes you feel and then how you make others feel.
Mindfulness is simple but easy, not so much. As you focus on noticing, thoughts will arise as they always do for everyone. Without realizing it, your mind will wander and carry your noticing away to memories from the past or the promising events of the future. The practice of mindfulness is noticing the wandering mind and gently bringing it back.
Meditation (your practice)
I was a pathetic manager before I started my mindfulness practice. Highly sensitive, a traumatic childhood, I took everything personally. As a beginner, you could say, my ambition exceeded my character.
Early on, I interpreted people and added judgments and labels about them to my inner mental noise. I managed based on my own personal identity of each person, the world, according to me. I believed what I constructed was reality. After creating more problems and enduring prolonged suffering, I realized that I was leading based on my version of reality.
The critical thing I learned early was to pause and listen to the voice in my head. I was not my thoughts. I grasped that I could hear the voice in my head, which meant I wasn’t the voice. I was listening to the voice. As I became still and listened more often, I noticed how listening changed my life.
I started a stillness practice to bring composure into the fray of managing. For 10 minutes each day, I watched the voice talk. This showed me how (crazy) thoughts come in and exit. They are not relevant, and they don’t mean much.
I could write an entire book with everything I learned about meditation. I’ll hit the highlights that you need. The primary thing is to start. Meditation is about discovering things and seeing the truth for yourself. You may hear advice from others, but your experience is all that counts. You are the expert of you.
I read all the books, attended the workshops, and worked with some of the best. From all that, I follow some basics, but I meditate based on what I designed to serve me well. Remember this, it is comforting to learn of a new idea, but it is liberating to know for yourself that it works.
I recommend you begin by meditating (or being still) for 10 minutes. If you get comfortable with that, go to thirty minutes. After 30 minutes, most beginners see diminishing returns.
I don’t sit cross-legged or use a cushion. I sit in a chair or anywhere I can. Meditation, for me, is simply stillness. Sometimes I meditate (get still) to watch objectively. Is there a buildup of fear? Am I anxious? That points me to areas where attention is required, and lessons are learned.
Or as I move through the day and find myself anxious, rather than block it out, I get still and meditate on that and see what’s there, how it feels. I explore my anger meditating, detached, and inquiring. Exploring these psychic irritants sheds new light. You’ll increase your understanding and be less threatened or fearful.
You become an observer rather than an actor. You’ll watch life’s problems rather than being hijacked by them.
Please get in touch! I’d love your feedback and comments.