“The ultimate goal in life is not to be successful or loved, but to become the truest expression of ourselves, to live into authentic selfhood, to honor our birthright gifts and callings, and be of service to humanity and our world.”
What comes to mind after reading the quote by Laloux? Did any feelings start stirring within? How does one become truly authentic and how does this relate to leadership?
Let us consider the first part of the question – how does one become authentic? The answer can be found through a mindfulness practice. Self-awareness is paramount to becoming authentic and a mindfulness practice helps us to understand and get to know ourselves better. In a study presented in the journal, Perspectives on Psychological Science, a mindfulness practice can help us uncover our “blind spots” and as we are all too aware of, these often get in the way of our own success and can often have negative consequences to our careers.
A mindfulness practice can be the opening to self-reflection which allows our brains to pause, ponder, and gain a glimpse into those behaviors that others see in us yet we cannot see in ourselves. How many times, after the fact, have you said to yourself, “I wish I could quit doing that” or some variation of berating yourself? We all have. With a mindfulness practice, you not only become aware of your blind spots but you can conquer them because, a mindfulness practice allows you to be less emotionally reactive, lengthening the resiliency to stimuli. Your inner world affects your outer world through your actions and words. To tame your inner landscape requires a mindfulness practice that also increases your emotional intelligence.
Uncovering your blind spots is just one benefit of a mindfulness practice that enhances your leadership and moves you towards your authentic self. Another benefit is managing stress and challenging situations. With a mindfulness practice, you can approach these situations with calm clarity. As you continue this practice your ability to stay calm and focused during stressful situations increases. The practice also brings more flexibility and adaptability to the brain and the advantage is that you can be more creative in finding solutions to problems you are confronting.
Your emotions can get in the way of your rational thinking and impact your decision-making. As a key component of emotional intelligence, developing a practice to manage your emotions can enhance and facilitate better decisions. Often when confronted with a decision to make, some individuals become overwhelmed and overthink the decision rendering them paralyzed. If this happens, step back and take 10 minutes to focus on your breath, even counting your breaths, (which is a form of a mindfulness practice). This gives your mind a break from over-thinking and over-analyzing the situation and can often allow a never before thought of a solution to emerge. Key to optimal decision-making is managing your emotions and reactions. Adopting a mindfulness practice facilitates this component.
As a leader, when you tame the emotions where each thought, action, and word comes from conscious intent instead of reaction, you become more authentic. A daily practice strengthens your command over reactionary behavior. We all have encountered those individuals who irritate and can get the best of us where their actions and or words trigger less than desirable responses from us. Having a mindfulness practice creates space between being reactionary and allows you time to choose a different response. When you take control of yourself, you are in your power and are responding from your truest self. This bears repeating. When you develop the ability to prevent anyone from “getting the best of you” your response is genuinely yours, not a reaction based upon old, learned defensive patterns. Leading from the authentic self from a mindfulness practice fosters evaluating reality clearly, not from a set of beliefs and limiting perspectives.
You don’t have the time, right? I know. Everyone I coach tells me they do not have the time to meditate for 20 or 30 minutes a day. Before I offer alternatives, one of the benefits from meditating 20 – 30 minutes daily is that your stress levels decrease, and it feels like there is more time to the day. Every decision takes energy and time. If you can approach a decision, a challenge, or a stressful situation with more clarity and calm, what I refer to as calm clarity, do you think you would have more time in the day? If you could re-charge yourself throughout the day, taking 10 minutes to hit the reset button in the brain to restore calm clarity, would that enhance your leadership and move you through the day with more ease? I guarantee your day will seem to lengthen and go more smoothly.
There are several apps available that you can download for a mindfulness practice. There are two I recommend, the HeadSpace app, which seems to be the most popular with my clients and you can try it for free. The other one is HeartMath or emwave. I encourage you to take the challenge. Try one of them daily for 30 days and discover the benefits of a mindfulness practice. Everyone I recommend this to notices a magnificent decrease in their reactionary responses and address challenging situations with calm clarity.
There is one more step to take. Take the EQi – 2.0 assessment to learn where your strengths are and what you need to work on as a leader. Contact me today for details. When you start on this path, in the words of Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. My hope is that you found value and took action in some way. Please share your thoughts and comments. And remember, Success Starts With You.