I recently took the opportunity to attend the Mindful Leadership Summit in Washington D.C. Joined by those from business, industry, government, spiritual teachers and practitioners and educators, it was an insightful and meaningful 3-day event.
When I looked back through my scribbled notes from the Summit, I consistently came back to the same word over and over again. Space, the taking and making of space as well as our incredible need for it in the current world we live and work in.
Mindful SPACE: Mindfulness is moment-to-moment awareness of our present moment experience. We now know taking space for mindfulness and training the brain leads to increased focus, higher productivity, higher retention and reduced time spent in meetings, to name a few. We know we can change our ‘plastic’ brains and rewire it to decide, react and think in other ways. Not convinced? Try it out yourself. If you’d like the research studies, let us know.
Be Real SPACE: It’s no surprise that the word vulnerability came up quite often during the Summit. Showing up, being real, being human are all part of what it takes to be a mindful and compassionate leader. We want, no, we need our leaders to be human, for us to be seen and be heard by them. Being vulnerable means taking an approach of whole person leadership and seeing people for their whole selves and not ‘only’ their work role.
Innovative SPACE: We want to fully show up, but worry about the consequences of doing so. US American Clothing Designer, Eileen Fisher, left me with several memorable thoughts. We leave ourselves at home and show up at work as the C-Suite something, the VP, the Director, the Marketing Manager.
We think we have to know. And because of this, we stop questioning. You know what happens when you stop asking questions? You stop being curious and creative, two essential qualities you need to be innovative. Think innovation doesn’t matter? Think again. It’s what’s keeping organizations going these days. PS: You can’t think innovation. Having a meeting to think ‘innovatively’ doesn’t lead to innovation. Being innovative is a by-product of creating a curious, creative and questioning organizational culture.
Go into your next conversation, your next meeting as if you don’t know the answer. Be open to outcome, curious, and questioning.
Gut SPACE: During the Summit, I was reminded of the purpose and importance of listening to our gut. A little over a year ago, I had emergency surgery to stop internal bleeding, just in time. Had I waited, I wouldn’t be writing these words today. Throughout the day, I KNEW something was not right, though I couldn’t say just what. My thoughts tried to tell me otherwise, but it was my gut that told me to do something fast. Listening to your gut is rooted in real science. Our brain sends us a signal, literally, to our gut. How often are you listening and trusting your gut, creating SPACE to be able to listen?
Organizational SPACE: A mindful leader matters. A mindful organization makes the difference. How can you become a more mindful organization and team? What rules need to change within the system? Mindfulness is not only about an individual. It is about a creating a culture of mindfulness. Sure, it is great if 1 person is paying more attention in a meeting. Imagine, though, if everyone in that meeting was actually there, present and paying attention. Not checking their phones and not responding to other e-mails. What would be possible? Change the rules, change the system.
A mindful organization includes:
· taking risk
· being vulnerable & showing up
· openness to creating and changing culture
· challenging the system
· sustaining change
· having permission
Priority SPACE: Just as we make time management or meeting numbers a business priority, presence needs to be a business priority too. As we work in attention-deficit teams and organizations, a lack of presence impacts our bottom line. Not paying attention costs money, costs jobs, costs lives. Respect and manage attention and presence. Start a meeting with a moment of presence and see how the results of the meeting change. Make presence matter and make it count, literally.
Quality SPACE: Where does power lie within your organization? Power is in the quality of what is said. This can go beyond a power position you have. How do you create quality space? Get people to talk as human beings first, get to their concerns, their fears, their underlying motivations. Then, move them beyond or detach them from their power positions (VP, C-Suite, Director, etc.). Quality space is created.
Conflict SPACE: US Congressman Tim Ryan spoke about conflict within politics. He says that politics is at its best when conflict is there. I would argue the same can be true for organizations and teams. When opinions are strong, passions are strong, conflict is going to be a part of the decision-making process. The conflict is not going away because you ignore it. This actually creates stress. // stress: wanting things to be different than the way they are. // Conflict around an issue can bring more clarity, awareness, appreciation and acceptance of the conflict. Taking SPACE for conflict also leads you to more comfort within the ‘gray’ area and realizing you may be only ½ right. No one is smart enough to be right all the time. Likewise, no no one is dumb enough to be wrong all the time.
Responsibility SPACE: Radical Responsibility™ is set of strategic best practices developed by Fleet Maull and designed to empower leaders, organizations, teams and individuals to create and sustain the highest levels of success by embracing 100% responsibility for everything that shows up in their business, organizational or personal domain, everything. Through Radical Responsibility we discover the freedom, power and creativity generated by one simple question ‘What else can I (we) do?’
1-Second SPACE: Implement the 1-second rule. Before you react, take 1-second. ‘Just’ one second. What is the best response you need to take NOW to be your best self? Take this 1-second, choose your next response to an e-mail, a person, an interruption. By slowing down and taking 1-second to choose to do the right thing, the mindful thing, and not just the next thing in front of you.
Room SPACE: Find a place (literally) so you can do, be, think something different. Maybe this is your office. Close your door. A conference room. A common area. A lunch area. Your car. The train. A museum. Nature. The treadmill. Find a physical place of presence for you where you can come from a place of mindfulness, compassion, gratitude and appreciation.
Paying attention, training your mind and becoming more present is simple andalways available to us. And it is very hard work, all at the same time.
Interested in learning more? Caterpillar Spirit can support you, your team and organization in creating and sustaining mindful intercultural change and global leadership. Learn more here: www.caterpillarspirit.com
‘Try looking at your mind as a wayward puppy that you are trying to paper train. You don’t drop-kick a puppy into the neighbor’s yard every time it piddles on the floor. You just keep bringing it back to the newspaper.’ – Anne Lamott