For whatever reason, mindfulness, in general, does not get the attention it deserves in the business world. There are exceptions (General Mills, Aetna, Google, and others) but mindfulness is not a tool that’s regularly brought out like cash flow analysis, project management, leadership development, sales training, etc.
This is unfortunate because mindfulness can reduce stress and stress is common in every workplace. It may be due to the spiritual aspects of mindfulness and the basic oil and water mix of business and spirituality.
Have no fear, mindfulness, at its core, does not require a spiritual belief system. At its core, mindfulness is about staying in the present, in the “now.” The benefits of staying in the present are better concentration, better problem solving, better communication, increased self and other awareness and the resulting improvement in relationships, and resilience in the face of stress.
Staying in the present offers all of these improvements because, by staying in the present, you are less likely to let your mind take off down any of several unproductive paths. These paths include catastrophizing (thinking about the worst possible outcome), figuring out how to avoid any criticism or CYAing (interfering with relationships), and plain old “time wasting” by needless fretting. Going down these paths mentally is common, even normal, despite the inefficiencies.
To practice mindfulness, you need to learn to stop your thinking when you find your mind starting down any of the paths mentioned above or others. Easier said than done. But once done, it’s relatively easy to refocus on the present and return to more productive thinking (observing, interacting with others, planning, etc.).
In brief, implement this plan:
- Notice when your focus turns away from the present.
- Reorient yourself to the present by refocusing on what is going on around you and/or your breathing.
- Return to focusing on the present (observing, interacting with others, planning, etc.).
Best wishes with your attempts at becoming more mindful in the business setting! As always, let us know if you have questions…
“The main business case for (mindfulness) is that if you’re fully present on the job, you will be a more effective leader, you will make better decisions, and you will work better with other people.”–William George