Working as a manager can be incredibly hard. It requires making tough choices, enforcing rules, dealing with complaints, and motivating employees. Being in charge often means taking on huge responsibility. It can involve a great deal of stress, and this is why so many struggle in this role. Some people are naturally suited to management positions because of their personality, but it is also possible to develop the needed skills. One way of doing this is to engage in mindfulness meditation.
How To Be Mindful
Mindfulness can sound like an exotic practice, but it is something that most humans have already experienced. Whenever people are fully absorbed in what they are doing, they are experiencing this mental state naturally. The main way that the practice of mindfulness differs from the natural state is that there is a deliberate attempt to be objective about any thoughts, feelings, and sensations, as they arise. This means focusing on the present moment in a non-judgmental way – for example, acknowledging ‘there is a sensation’ rather than ‘my knee is sore’.
One of the great things about mindfulness is that it is not necessary to sit in a perfect lotus position in order to benefit from the practice. This meditation can be done while walking, driving, gardening, or engaging in simple tasks. All that is needed to benefit from this technique is the willingness to pay attention to moment-to-moment awareness.
When people first start trying to practice mindfulness, they are usually surprised at how out-of-control their mind can appear – this phenomenon is often referred to as ‘monkey brain’. It can be difficult to stay in the present moment for even 30 seconds. This is perfectly natural, and it doesn’t mean that the person is doing anything wrong. In fact, recognizing when the mind wanders is a sign of progress. It is not about getting frustrated about slipping into thoughts of past or future but in recognizing this and returning to the present moment.
One way to become better at being mindful is to engage in a formal practice. This usually involves sitting down in a relaxed position for a set period of time – 20 minutes is common. The session starts off by focusing on the breath. Every time a feeling, sensation, or thought arises, the practitioner tries to acknowledge it without becoming caught up in abstract thought.
There are also other mindfulness techniques like body scanning, loving awareness, expanding awareness, and open awareness. If people don’t enjoy a sitting practice, it is also possible to choose moving mindfulness techniques like tai-chi or yoga. The benefit of having a formal practice is it makes it much easier to be mindful in other areas of life. Some of the most popular mindfulness techniques have been devised by Buddhist monks over the last 2,500 years, but there is no need to adopt any new beliefs in order to benefit from this practice.
How Mindfulness Could Make You A Better Manager
Mindfulness meditation can be an effective tool for managing stress, increasing focus, handling negative emotions, developing empathy, and improving intuition. These are all skills that allow managers to do their job more effectively. Bosses who take up this practice on a daily basis should notice an improvement in their performance in as little as eight weeks.
Working as a manager has always been stressful, but the role can be even more demanding these days due to downsizing, increasing workloads, and job insecurity. It is hardly surprising that so many bosses are dying young due to stress-related illness. Practicing mindfulness every day provides an opportunity for deep relaxation and rejuvenation – it therefore combats chronic stress. The technique also increases the ability to handle daily challenges because of an improved ability to see live more objectively.
The ability to stay focused is crucial for managers because there are so many distractions in the workplace. In order to get things done, a boss needs to be able to prioritize and maintain attention on whatever task need completing. Mindfulness meditation can greatly improve the ability to remain focused because it involves training the mind to stay in the present moment. Doing this can be like weight-lifting for the brain. By repeatedly returning the mind to right now, it strengthens the ability to focus.
Mental clarity is the ability to distinguish things that are important from those that are not. A common reason business start to fail is because managers create confusion by not having clear goals. Employees become unsure about what is expected of them, and this climate of uncertainty prevents them from being productive. This lack of clarity by bosses means the company begins to go off-track, as it loses sight of its original vision, and employees become disheartened. Mindfulness training is an excellent tool for developing mental clarity because it quietens down the mind enough to see things more clearly. It also makes it easier for bosses to adapt to change without losing sight of what is most important.
Negative emotions like frustration, anger, and bitterness, can get in the way of effective leadership. Managers are just people, so it is not going to be possible to completely avoid such emotions, but mindfulness practice means more control over how these feelings influence behavior. Mindfulness means bosses can benefit from a gap between an emotion and their reaction – for example, if a feeling of anger arises, the manager now has the option to reflect on consequences and to decide if they want to express it.
Mindfulness practice is a great way to develop empathy because it allows practitioners to develop a much deeper understanding of themselves. This increased self-knowledge helps the person become more comfortable in their own skin, and it also increases the ability to appreciate how other people are feeling.
Managers often have to make tough decisions that are going to be unpopular with employees, but a great deal of unnecessary conflict occurs in the workplace when managers lack empathy skills. The most effective leaders are able to see things from other people’s point of view, and this allows them to manage more effectively. It also increases their ability to connect with customers and clients.
Intuition is the ability to access unconscious information in order to make the right decision. There doesn’t have to be anything magical about this process, it is just that humans have the ability to pick up on connections and associations because of past experiences. High achievers like Steve Jobs have credited their success on being able to follow their intuition, so it does seem to be a key ability for quality leadership. Mindfulness makes it easier to be intuitive because it quietness down the mind enough to access this information.
Mindfulness in the Workplace
It isn’t only managers that can benefit from a mindfulness practice. This is why companies like Google, Starbucks, Apple, Yahoo!, and Proctor & Gamble all provide this type of training for their employees. The reason these businesses are willing to pay mindfulness teachers to come in and provider seminars is because it can increase productivity, improve job satisfaction, reduce absenteeism, and boost creativity. One of the most popular courses is mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), created by Jon Kabit-Zinn.
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