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How mindfulness can help you lead better

The practice of mindfulness can help you be a well-respected and effective leader. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH
The practice of mindfulness can help you be a well-respected and effective leader. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH 

Have you ever had a moment, or probably many moments, where you react without thinking? You have had a stressful day at work and your child asks you something and without realising, you snap at her.

John Nancy, at the reception is late, yet again, which makes your blood bubble and boil, and you glide over and say exactly what you think at the time.

This may be an impulsive action. Which may feel like the right reaction in that moment, but only to leave you feeling a sense of embarrassment and guilt takes over you about it afterwards.

It is likely that we have all been in similar situations, and the way we react could be having a damaging impact on our reputation and other people. We can save ourselves all this worry by practising mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a mental state, which is achieved by focusing awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts and physical sensations.

A Vietnamese monk and peace activist explains, “Mindfulness shows us what is happening in our bodies, our emotions, our minds, and in the world. Through mindfulness, we avoid harming ourselves and others.”

The practice of mindfulness, which has been in the leadership sphere for a while can help you be a well-respected and effective leader. Leading a business or a team can be demanding and stressful.

One of the most important leadership skills is to put that phone away and be present, to listen to and observe what is happening in the moment.

This would therefore enable you to provide or help provide the right solution to any challenge. Yet, this rare skill is something yet to be mastered by many leaders.

Harvard psychologists Killingsworth and Gilbert found that people spend close to half of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they are doing.
In other words, many of us operate on autopilot, while our minds are light years away.

To add to this, a significant number of many leaders need to make sense of a burgeoning amount of information and deal with numerous interruptions on a daily basis. With all this going on, how can they be focused and productive?

Mindfulness can be the saving grace. Here are some really simple and quick things you can do daily to help practice mindfulness with the outcome of being more focused and productive:

1.Start your day right

Most stress hormones are released within minutes after waking up., This is because we tend to think about the day ahead, which triggers the fight or flight response and releases cortisol into the blood. Therefore spend two minutes in your bed, noticing your breathing and as thoughts pop up into and out of your head. Let these trailing thoughts go and focus on your breathing.

2.Anchoring your mind

This entails bringing gentle attention to a chosen object, and gently bringing your mind back to the object if your mind starts to wander. This could be a physical object, feelings or even your breathing. This simple exercise can help to centre yourself and focus your mind.

3.Switch it all off

Give yourself 10 minutes at any point of the day where you switch off from everything around you and simply allow yourself to be. This could be on your commute home, for example:, switch off the radio and your phone and just breathe. Or in your office, you could shut the door, switch off your gadgets and allow your mind to settle. A few moments of stillness, can make all the difference and add some clarity in a foggy mind.

Kent is founder and owner of Redstone Consulting that focus on leadership development and performance management

rekha@redstoneconsulting.co.ke