Helping leaders emerge


Live in Joy

Live in joy, In love, Even among those who hate.
Live in joy, In health, Even among the afflicted.
Live in joy, In peace, Even among the troubled.
Look within. Be still.
Free from fear and attachment,
Know the sweet joy of the way.”

– The Buddha

Mindfulness Beyond Meditation!

Mindfulness is about living my life,
collaboratively and relatively calmly,
allowing me to be myself while
still being respectful of everyone else around me
– Ari Weinzweig, CEO Zingerman’s

As you probably know, meditation is the practice of setting quiet time aside and turning your attention to a single point of reference (anchor) like your breath, body sensations, sights, sounds, or word mantra.

BUT maybe you DON’T want to meditate (it’s not for everyone!) – or you just want to complement your meditation practice. Why not give mindfulness a try?

Ari Weinzweig’s mindfulness definition (see above) really resonates with me as well as Ellen Langer’s. Langer is professor of psychology at Harvard University and claims you don’t need to meditate to be mindful, describing mindfulness ….as the process of actively noticing new things. That as you notice new things that puts you in the present.

I think of a mindful leader as someone who brings out the best in oneself and others by consistently “showing up” present, grounded, and compassionate—especially in challenging situations.

Tips to Be a More Mindful Leader!

Journal – Write down how you want to “show up” for the day. Write it down on a note card, put it in your pocket, and periodically check in with yourself, “How am I doing?” At the end of the day, check in and journal about how your day went.

Prepare – Take a few minutes to prepare yourself for an upcoming meeting. This will help you be more proactive (versus reactive) in how you engage. By simply preparing for a potential conversation, you will be able to remain more grounded and calm. Plus, as one of my clients shared, you might even get a good night’s sleep the night before a challenging situation.

Choose learning and curiosity over judging – This will help keep your emotions, body language, energy level, and mindset positive, enabling you to “show up” in a more thoughtful versus reactive mode.

Take the balcony view – Be a third-party observer in your own conversation. That way, you’ll be able to have a bit of distance and remain grounded and calm.

Get grounded – Feel your feet on the floor, breathe, and count to three.

Hit the pause button – Avoid blurting out the first thing that comes into your mind. Instead, take a moment to breathe and think about your response.

Stop multitasking – Think you’re doing a good job at juggling everything? You’re only kidding yourself if you think you’re doing a good job at anything, if you aren’t giving it your full attention.

Center yourself several times a day – As you jump from meeting to meeting in the course of a day, periodically remind yourself to take a deep breath and focus on the present moment. You’ll become more centered and less distracted.

Get physical – Jog, walk, swim, kayak, dance, try Yoga… Find some form of enjoyable, energizing exercise that enables you to clear your head and get perspective.

Renew on a daily basis – Activate your parasympathetic nervous system, also called the renewal system, by engaging in energy-replenishing activities, such as listening to music, painting, reading, praying, or spending time with friends and family. Establish a consistent daily routine. Don’t wait until you’re burnt out; it’s tough to binge renew.

Get a good night’s sleep – Sleep reduces stress, restores brain function, and is important to self-control, memory, attention, learning, and problem solving. Going to bed a bit earlier is one of the fastest ways to reenergize in the midst of a long and stressful work week.

Power off your cell phone before and after bedtime – Give yourself the gift of time off from answering to other people by turning off your PDA for a set period of time before bed – and in bed – as well as on the weekends. If you can’t turn your phone off for an extended period, at least find small blocks of time where you can choose to go offline.

Appreciate what you have – Keeping track of what you’re happy and grateful for will help you maintain better perspective, boost your mood, and lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This is also an excellent practice to do before bed: spend two minutes focusing on someone or something new that you are grateful for and why.

Do a small good deed – Whether you help an elderly person cross a busy street or hold the elevator door for a frazzled coworker, you will remember what it feels like to be the kind and considerate person you are when you’re not in a hurry – and helping others is one of the fastest ways to get a dopamine hit!

Cut back on coffee – Caffeine is a powerful drug that triggers the release of adrenaline. Increased levels of adrenaline lead to stress and anxiety because they spur a “fight or flight” response. It’s hard to make a decision and “show up” rational (versus reactive) when the blood has literally left your brain.

Take a break – If you lose your objectivity or become triggered, ask to take a five-minute coffee, tea (decaf!) or bathroom break. Use it to center yourself by reminding yourself of how you want to “show up.”

Your One Wild and Precious Life

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean––

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down––

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver, “The Summer Day”