Happy New Year to you all. I hope everyone got a chance to regenerate and refocus over the break. Based upon my coaching conversations with so many of our clients, 2013 has taken off with a bang.
While I was on holiday, a friend of mine sent me an article that appeared in the New York Times about The Power of Concentration: http://nyti.ms/QZ49Sl He accompanied the link with a fantastic question: What kinds of exercises would you recommend to achieve increased mindfulness?
This was a great article and a great question. I thanked him for starting my Sunday with some deep thinking and then I started to reflect on the Performance Mindset and all the ways we encourage the development of mindfulness. I also reflected on the huge impact the leaders we work with could make (both at work and away from work) if they committed to becoming more mindful in 2013.
So, what is mindfulness? This is a topic I have given much thought to over the years. In the meditation and yoga world it is something esoteric that occurs from a deep practice and can only be attained after many years of faithful repetition. To me it is something very simple and very attainable in our normal lives. Mindfulness is the skill of moving from an unconscious/subconscious life where you are driven by habits, to a life where your awareness is keen, and through the application of focus and attention you consciously and purposefully create a higher level of living. This is a little broad but let me explain.
When a Sommelier grabs a bottle of wine, he takes in the label, he thinks about the winery, the landscape where the grapes were grown, the weather in that area that particular year, and the type of grape that created the wine. He opens the bottle and purposefully aerates it while he thinks about the full potential that this experience will bring to the wine. He then pours the wine while observing the way it covers the glass and settles in the bottom. He then swirls the wine, fully inhales the aroma, and then puts just the right amount into his palate so he can experience all of the individual tastes that make up the wine. I don’t know anything about wine, but I know this is mindfulness. I also know that every time he does this, he derives the exact same benefits as the buddhist monk who meditates.
When you wake up and purposefully engage in Daily Prep, you are practicing mindfulness. If you just whip through the movements with no attention to what you are feeling, how you are breathing, where you have tension, or what you are trying to attain, you are practicing movement with very little mindfulness. When you begin to think through your day, to visualize your most critical interactions, to question where your oscillation moments are, and to breathe deeply to put yourself in the exact emotional state that you want in each moment, you are practicing mindfulness. If you open your laptop, quickly scan your calendar while you slam down a piece of toast, at the same time checking your email and trying to scan the newspaper - you are practicing multi-tasked induced chaos - the antithesis of mindfulness.
Each time you make yourself fully present, where you slow time down so you can allow your awareness to take in all the detail of the Sommelier, you are creating mindfulness. At Tignum, we teach multiple strategies to do this. When you create and implement work-to-home and home-to-work transitions, you are practicing mindfulness. When you do your Daily Prep, you are practicing mindfulness. When you slow down your meal and think about the benefits of the foods you have chosen, you are practicing mindfulness. When you reflect on what you did well in a meeting, or at the end of the day, and consciously visualize how you would do things differently, you are practicing mindfulness. When you take a short oscillation break to breathe, you are quieting your mind from the chaos of the outside world and turning your focus inward to rebalance your autonomic nervous system and you are practicing mindfulness. When you go for a walk outside and you purposefully control your breathing and correct your posture, while you take in the smells of nature and allow your mind to clear, you are practicing mindfulness.
The benefits of truly becoming Tignumized are far greater than health, wellness, energy, and resilience. There is a real power in becoming fully present, to being purposeful and mindful, of being focused and aware, and of creating more with less. This is why we travel the world to work with top leaders and their teams, why we help these leaders infuse Sustainable High Performance into every nook of their culture, and why we continue to speak and write on the topics we do. The demands of our busy work and private lives are huge (and never getting smaller). But the potential for us to really impact everything we do requires a different approach, a new level of mindfulness, and a commitment to Sustainable High Performance.
I look forward to engaging with you because I think mindfulness is a great topic. I’d love to hear what you think.
By Scott Peltin
Founder & Chief Performance Officer