Will A Mindfulness Practice Enhance Your Leadership?

 “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.”

~Frederic Laloux

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.

Blind Spots

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.

Stress Management

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.

Enhanced Decision-Making

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.

Authentic Self

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.

Next Steps

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.

Melinda Fouts, Ph.D.
Melinda Fouts, Ph.D.http://www.successstartswithyou.net/
Melinda is a select Columnist & Featured Contributor for BIZCATALYST 360° and a Member of the Forbes Coaches Council (comprised of Top coaches offering insights on leadership development & careers). Prior to executive coaching and leadership development, Melinda has been in private practice as a psychotherapist for almost 20 years. She leverages her strengths and insights from her psychology background to help leaders and managers in transition through increased self-awareness. Owner and founder of Success Starts with You, is based upon the premise that you are already successful. Increasing self-awareness to increase emotional intelligence and unlocking blind spots are paramount to continued success. Melinda uses assessments to help bring more awareness. Whether you are a leader or manager in transition, need a thought partner, or need to improve your professional presence, Melinda has developed unique and innovative techniques from her background to help you reach higher heights. Melinda received her Ph.D. in Jungian Psychology from Saybrook University and her Masters in Psychology from Pacifica University. Melinda has worked as a consultant with executives and businesses for over 20 years. As a result of her experience and studies, she has developed a unique craft to fine-tune leadership development for peak performance. She lives in Colorado with her big, beautiful dog, Stryder.
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Dr. Robert Bornhofen

Another useful & timely article from Dr. Melinda Fouts, Ph.D. International Executive Coach on how we can further realize our full potential. Main takeaway: step 1 is an inside-out assessment of how we think and interact with others. Dr. Fouts specializes in helping professionals understand and strengthen these abilities such that higher-order needs can be fulfilled and success achieved over time.

Melinda Fouts, Ph.D. International Executive Coach
Melinda Fouts, Ph.D. International Executive Coach

Thank you, Bob, for your gracious comments and insights here.

Eric Bruggeman
Eric Bruggeman

Great share on being authentic Melinda

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thank you for your support

Jeffrey Lipsus
Jeffrey Lipsus

Great article by @FoutsMelinda about some common sense benefits of a mindfulness practice for leadership and performance!!!

Melinda Fouts, Ph.D. International Executive Coach
Melinda Fouts, Ph.D. International Executive Coach

I’m glad you found value in the article, Jeff.

Larry Tyler

Hi Dr. Melinda. I love the part about Enhanced Decision-Making and giving your mind a break. Having passion for something does not mean having that passion wreck your well being. Great article thank you.

Melinda Fouts, Ph.D. International Executive Coach
Melinda Fouts, Ph.D. International Executive Coach

Thank you for your engagement here, Larry.

Chris Pehura

Excellent points. All I can say is that by understanding yourself you greatly increase your force multiplier. Even more so when you can articulate that understanding to others.

For example, I often explain how I follow process by sharing my first experience with it. I was working at a company doing military based projects. Being Canadian, I didn’t have security clearance. So, an 7 foot tall soldier taken literally out of one of those military video games would escort me every morning to my work site. I had to follow a yellow line to get there. Every morning my giant of a man escort would say “Chris, if you step one inch away for the line, I will give you a warning. Step two inches and I will butt you in the head with my gun.” That gun was longer than my leg.

That is how a see process today — how I see planning — how I see culture — how I see leadership.

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