Do you ever worry about growing your business, or your job, or the economy? At some point … of course you do! We live in a constantly changing, and evolving world. For most people at some point this causes some level of worry or stress.
Being freaked out is not only terrible for your health and your relationships, but it is also really bad for business.
Here’s the thing – these stresses aren’t going away.
Some stress a good thing, right?
But do you think it drives your success? You might want to reconsider this. Experts report that slow burning stress, anger and other negative emotions can actually kill you. It can also be toxic for your relationships with clients, your team and at home.
When you’re experiencing fear and anxiety others can feel this as well. You emit a “fear pheromone” when you’re anxious and it’s contagious. Your stress can act like an infectious plague affecting those around you.
Okay, if the stressors don’t go away then the only thing that you can control is how you deal with them. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could do something that not only cushions the stress but also helps you grow your business? Ta-dah! Here’s what’s worked for me and many, many others … incorporating a mindfulness practice into your daily schedule might just be your secret weapon.
What is mindfulness anyway?
A simple definition is: Being aware. We are often running on autopilot. It’s estimated that 47% of the time our minds are wandering. That means that almost half of the time you’re thinking about something other than what’s happening in the present moment. This bears the question: what might you be missing? Is it an important cue a client is giving you? Maybe a comment from a disgruntled employee? Or, how about really being present with your kids or partner?
Here’s a more expansive definition from The Mindful Nation UK Report: “Mindfulness means paying attention to what’s happening in the present moment in the mind, body and external environment, with an attitude of curiosity and kindness.”
A great way to practice mindfulness is through meditation. Just like with exercise, there are many different styles of meditation. Whether you like Zumba, kickboxing, or cycling it’s important to find the exercise practice that you enjoy… it’s the same with meditation. For many years I practiced Transcendental Meditation, more recently my practice has shifted to mindfulness meditation typically focusing my attention on my breath.
I know that my meditation practice helped me be more successful in business. Clients and staff felt more comfortable and calm. I think it helped me read my clients more effectively and this had a direct positive impact on the bottom line. I know it helped me be a better wife and mom too.
Research backs up the benefits. Meditation can change the structure and functioning of your brain to allow you to not only be less stressed, but less reactive and with a greater ability to control mind wandering. Perhaps it’s not the latest time management strategy that will help you be more productive but actually spending time daily meditating.
Here’s a quick and fun video on why meditation is the new superpower by news anchor Dan Harris. He came to meditation after having a panic attack on live TV while doing the news on Good Morning America.
Companies like Google, SAP, and Aetna know the importance of these skills and have implemented training for their teams. Google started their Search Inside Yourself program and it was so incredibly successful they had thousands on the waiting list to get into the course. They have since spun off this initiative to a separate non-profit and the workshop is now being given around the world. A great book to get you started is based on their program: Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace.)
Simple ways to start meditating
Starting a meditation practice doesn’t have to mean sitting cross legged like a pretzel on the floor for an extended period of time. You can begin with a few conscious breaths; just noticing your in-breath and noticing your out-breath. As your attention drifts off with your thoughts (which for just about everyone it will) simply and gently bring your attention back to your breath. Inhale and exhale.
- Insight Timer – this is my personal favorite and I’ve used it for years. It is free (although there is an upgraded version I purchased). There are thousands of guided meditations, courses and music.
- Headspace and Calm – two additional very popular apps with much content to choose from.
- 10% Happier – this is Dan Harris’ app (the news anchor mentioned above.)
When I work with teams to incorporate more mindfulness into their daily lives and their leadership practices I often say “sometimes you need to slow down to speed up.” Your ability to be more present in every aspect of your life can be one of the most important, foundational skills to master for your success and happiness.
Every good wish,