Everyone can benefit from being a mindful leader, a mindful manager, a mindful assistant, even a mindful parent, wife or husband as it applies to one’s personal and business life. A mindful leader leads from a position of mindful awareness, or what I call mindstrength, by knowing how to respond with awareness instead of reaction and how to make everyone on their team feel recognized, affirmed and valued. Mindfulness provides you with clarity and calm in a crisis, protecting you from the temptation to panic and jump from one bad situation to another, or blame others for the crisis and avoid looking at your role in it; plus it gives you the power to change it.
Mindful communication is an extraordinary tool for problem solving. It allows you to tolerate the discomfort of confrontation with others and the embarrassment of discovering how you might have contributed to the problem. Mindfulness also allows you to find your creativity and resourcefulness, so that you can approach the situation differently and perhaps transform it. It helps you to easily tap into your core creativity to solve problems and achieve goals.
Most of us were taught that creativity comes from the thoughts and emotions of the mind. The greatest singers, dancers, painters, writers, and filmmakers recognize that the most original, and even transformative, ideas actually come from the core of our being. Core creativity emerges when we’re in a state of open-mind consciousness, which evolves from a state of consciousness called mindful inquiry.
It isn’t difficult to become a mindful leader if you are willing to make an effort to develop some type of mindfulness practice and be open to the process. The ideal practice is to cultivate a mindfulness meditation that is done twenty minutes once or twice a day. But it’s better to start doing ten minutes once a day than aiming for the overall goal and then feeling overwhelmed by it and falling short.
Other ways to become a mindful leader is to develop your own type of meditation practice. Meditation allows us to listen and pay attention to what we might otherwise overlook—whether it’s a fresh idea or a new way of perceiving a situation—enhancing our creativity and letting go of our obstacles to innovation. Take a five to ten minute break in the middle of your day to mediate so you can clear your head and tap into your core creativity. You can also access this creativity by exploring the Arts, walking in nature and through mindful movement such as martial arts, tai chi and yoga. Some of the most creative thinkers spent a great deal of unstructured time in nature in their formative years. It appears that many artists, philosophers, leaders, and thinkers throughout time have intuitively used mindful awareness to further their inner development.
As you learn to build your mindfulness practice, and apply the principal of developing a witnessing mind over time you can increasingly build more and more mindstrength. With a little effort you can quickly learn to focus, harness and direct the unruly and untamed aspects of the mind into more clarity, order and positivity.
Ronald Alexander, Ph.D. is the author of Wise Mind, Open Mind: Finding Purpose and Meaning in Times of Crisis, Loss, and Change. He is the director of the OpenMind Training® Institute. See his site here.