Mindful meditation for serving leaders
Leadership is a gift and a responsibility. And as leaders, we will want to seriously consider this.
After all, every management decision made can have an impact on our company – and often also on the lives of our team members. Whether or not our decisions ultimately lead to a positive outcome can be traced back to these decisions.
Even experienced managers often follow their first instincts when making decisions without a break or foresight. Or they simply feed on the energy of their surroundings. If the power goes out, the team – and maybe even the entire company – can be swept away quickly.
Fortunately, leaders have the ability to change this narrative through serving leadership, or as I call it, leading it with real diligence.
But what does it mean to be real? It lives with sincerity and authenticity. Real, serving executives take care of the totality of every person – without judgment or a personal agenda that only serves the executive or the company.
A leader who serves with real care values the unique people who make up the ecosystem of any organization. They strive to nurture each employee while making mindful decisions that support the lives of their team members as a whole – not just when they are “on the clock”.
Real care management is rarely a matter of course. It takes education, awareness and continuous practice to lead consistently with authenticity and a people-oriented mindset. Fortunately, we all have access to an incredible life tool that can be useful to some – mindfulness and meditation.
A better understanding of real care leadership with mindfulness
Imagine you are part of a meeting. It’s not going well and the power is out. People, including you, are frustrated. When the collective energy escalates, you feel it. You also recognize this energy creeping inside you. It’s an energy that you know can carry over to the rest of your day, evening, and even your sleep.
But then something else arises.
Instead of giving in to the rising temperature, pause and think about the evolving situation. Then respond with a measured response in a way that increases the energy of the meeting. The whole thought process took a split second, but it changed everything.
This is just one way that mindful meditation can transform your leadership. By cultivating a mindfulness practice, you will be better prepared to notice this critical moment between stimulus and response. Here you can pause – often just for a moment – and consciously choose a better path.
It is truly spectacular to see the relationships within your team strengthen as you consciously shift your energy and your actions. Studies show that mindfulness and meditation don’t just improve human connection. It can also reduce stress, increase empathy, and keep the ego in check – skills that are desired by any positive leader.
When you adopt mindfulness you can see great benefits personally, professionally, and in all aspects of your life.
How leaders can start a mindfulness practice
Mindfulness practice does not lead to transformative changes overnight. It’s called practice for a reason, and like leadership, you never stop learning. Fortunately, getting started on this lifelong journey is easy.
During a mindful meditation practice, we simply perceive our thoughts. We use our breath as an anchor and constantly return to the present moment – right here and now.
To try it out, find a comfortable spot, relax, or close your eyes and focus on your breath by breathing normally. As your mind begins to drift, practice returning your attention to your breath. You can practice this for a minute, five minutes, or any time that suits you.
But as you know, executives are busy! Even those extra minutes seem hard to fit in. One way to cultivate a stronger, more regular practice is to attend a mindful leadership retreat.
A retreat is a unique opportunity for participants to have focused time to learn and improve their mindfulness practice. It also offers attendees a break from their busy lives – something most haven’t had in years … or decades!
I have been attending mindfulness meditation retreats twice a year for over a decade and I am nowhere near alone. From top technology leader Scott Kriens, who designs the 1440 Multiversity, to Salesforce, who is setting up “mindfulness zones” at its headquarters in San Francisco, to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who regularly participates in meditation retreats, executives recognize the value of slowing down.
Retreats offer teachings to help leaders slow down so they can go faster. Participants practice the basics of mindfulness and learn through experience how it can be applied in everyday life. With concentrated time, the participants can get to know these extraordinary tools of life completely.
If you’re curious about a meditation retreat there are many amazing programs out there including the 1440 Multiversity and Spirit Rock in Northern California, the Insight Meditation Society in New York State, and the Shambhala Mountain Center in Colorado where I host (full disclosure) an annual retreat for mindful guidance.
There are also great online meditation programs, master classes, leadership classes, smartphone apps like Calm, Headspace, Insight Timer or Meditation Studio and free mindfulness resources, all just a click away.
No matter how your journey of mindfulness and meditation develops, life can open up in exciting, enriching, and wonderfully unexpected ways!
Contact me anytime to learn more about meditation and mindful guidance. Connect on Twitter and LinkedIn. Listen to my Leading with Genuine Care podcast to hear conversations with great leaders from around the world and keep up to date with my company imageOne.