Do you often feel distracted, unable to focus on what is important?
In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) Professor Bill George wrote about Developing Mindful Leaders for the C-Suite.
The point of the article was to share how major corporations like Google, Apple, General Mills, Goldman Sachs and Aetna are providing encouragement and programs to reduce the stress of their employees.
They are finding that practices like meditation, journaling and introspection are proving effective helping employees, especially C-Suite executives, deal with the stresses of their position. According to Professor George “it’s especially important that leaders with great responsibilities gain focus and clarity in making their most important decisions, creativity in transforming their enterprises, compassion for their customers and employees, and the courage to go their own way.”
As a leader you undoubtedly have experienced many times, when faced with a critical decision, where you wished you had been able to focus and think more clearly. What is it that you could have done differently?
Here is what some major companies are doing:
- Google runs hundreds of classes on meditation.
- Apple’s Steve Jobs was a meditator and encouraged his team to use it to focus and allow for creativity.
- General Mills also promotes meditation.
- Goldman Sachs holds mindfulness classes.
- Aetna has conducted studies on yoga and meditation and their positive impact on healthcare costs.
Practiced for centuries it is probably the most recognized form of practice to promote relaxation and focus and, perhaps, the least practiced, at least in the U.S. It seems many people understand the benefits and have tried it at one or more points in their lives (me included) but have stopped for various excuses. However, the health benefits are so powerful that I keep considering it and recently made a new commitment to the practice. Benefits such as increasing our immunity to disease, improving emotional balance, lowering blood pressure and reducing stress all are calling me to reconsider my commitment. Explore more here.
Also centuries old, journaling is the practice of writing down your personal experiences, usually daily. It has health benefits as well, such as clarifying your thoughts, thereby reducing stress; strengthening the immune system; improving cognitive functioning; and decreasing symptoms of asthma, arthritis and other health conditions. Some secrets to journaling: do it daily, write it down quickly, don’t worry about spelling or punctuation, and do it alone without interruption. Explore more here.
There are other ways to create space for relaxation and reflection such as: prayer, walking or jogging, and long bike rides (my favorite).
Whatever it is you choose I urge you to choose something. By quieting the mind we are able to focus on what is most important in our life at that moment allowing us to make the best choices for ourselves or our family or our company and its employees. What form will you choose?
Consider Reading This
True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership by Bill George. The former CEO of Medtronic shares the wisdom of 125 business leaders interviewed for his book which will help you lead with your authentic self.