Mindfulness is most commonly associated with meditation. It’s viewed as a tool to help lower stress and ease the mind. However, mindfulness isn’t just a way to relax. It’s also an outlook that allows people to unite the mind and the body. Mindfulness is holistic. It addresses the individual as a complete entity, both mind and body. When the mind and body are pulling in the same direction, instead of in opposition to one another, great things can happen.
The practice of mindfulness has gone mainstream. Championed by figures like Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, it’s a technique that stands up to studies. It gets reproducible results. Companies that implement mindfulness programs have seen healthcare, and other costs decrease significantly. Today, powerhouses like Aetna, Google, and Target all offer mindfulness programs to their workforces.
One way Kabat-Zinn frames mindfulness is that it means paying attention. Much of the world is designed to distract us. Take into consideration advertising, for example. In the developed world, it’s easy to consume mindlessly. That consumption can include food, goods, or services. By paying attention, people can revolutionize the way they spend, eat, and feel. In the business world, paying attention this way can pay big dividends. Executives have employed mindfulness as a strategy since at least the 1970s. One example of this can be seen in Pierre Wack’s experience at Royal Dutch/Shell.
Wack paid attention, and in doing so, he was able to see the big picture much clearer than others. Wack made it a point to listen. He paid attention to people at all levels of society. It didn’t matter to him whether they were service workers, engineers, or executives. What mattered was the quality of their information and the authenticity of their viewpoints.
In the same way that mindfulness can help consumers avoid traps, it can help business leaders see through the spin. It can aid in seeing beyond the traditional way of doing things. Mindfulness can be an important tool for forecasting the future. It can help to achieve disruption.
Mindfulness also helps business leaders stay centered. The confidence and self-assurance that comes from mindfulness can inspire confidence in co-workers, employees, and shareholders. It also can help leaders to manage their stress. Overall, mindfulness is one of the most promising ideas for burgeoning leaders to embrace.