Mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword, but its proven effects are hard to scoff at. Increased productivity, wellness, happiness, and energy are just a few reasons businesses are integrating elements of mindfulness into their leadership and management practices.
It’s a value that’s working its way into cultures from Google to General Mills.
Now, if the words “mindfulness at work” have you picturing an office with people speaking softly, moving slowly, and gathering for regular group meditations, it’s no wonder you find the idea unsettling. While those could well be signs of mindfulness in full force, they’re also more extreme variants.
Mindfulness goes beyond meditation (although meditation is one vehicle to increase mindfulness). Mindfulness at work is about being intentional and present to what’s going on inside you, and around you.
It’s about pausing before you respond, not making assumptions or inferences, engaging in meaningful dialogue, staying curious, and asking questions rather than making assumptions. Mindfulness helps us see things as truly are, so we can respond to truth and not just what our egos want us to believe.
All these elements help increase our EQ, which we now know is essential to healthy leadership. They help us increase our awareness of how the people and environment around us affect us, and how we affect them.
Mindfulness at work is simply about pausing once in a while, so we can observe, learn, adjust, and work smarter. We need a sense of awareness to realize when we’re doing busy work, or multi-tasking, or not living by our values, or burning out.
“The pace of our workdays and our reliance on this always-on culture has made mindfulness more needed than ever before,” David Gelles, author of Mindful Work, told the Wall Street Journal. “The degree to which everyone is so hyperconnected and so addicted to their smartphones and email has gotten many people to a place where mindfulness is a really welcome antidote to this incessant communications culture.”
It’s not rocket science, nor is it airy fairy New Age stuff. Getting started is as simple as becoming more aware of yourself and the world around you. It’s straight forward yet powerful, and something any workplace can integrate, from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, to wherever you happen to be sitting right now.
What do you hear, see, smell, feel right now? Answer that, and you’re already on your way.