Believe it or not, being a great leader in the workplace involves more than just delegating tasks, going to meetings, and managing your organization. In fact, there are quite a few things that you can do each day in your personal time that will help you enjoy life more and become a better conscious leader, too. Among those, daily contemplative practice is one of the most effective and valuable things you can do for yourself and your career as a leader. While Yoga and meditation are currently fashionable examples for contemplative practice, these are not your only options. For some of us, a walk in nature does what Yoga in it’s essence does to others. Have a look at “The Tree of Contemplative Practices”, (www.contemplativemind.org), and choose a practice that might appeal to you. Here are just a few of the ways that practicing daily contemplation can improve your conscious leadership.
Develop a More Relaxed State of Mind
How productive are you when you’re under a lot of stress? While some people maintain that they work better when they’re under the gun with a deadline breathing down their neck, this is just really not the case for most people. Feeling stressed will distract you from listening to your team members and focusing on open communication and creative problem solving. Daily contemplative practices promote a more relaxed state of mind and can give you the tools to deal with stress in a more productive manner. It is a complementary practice to your emotional and social intelligence that enables you to choose from which place you want to respond while you are under stress.
Learn the Power of Taking a Deep Breath
Meditating teaches you to breathe mindfully and to really fill your lungs with oxygen. After a session of just a few minutes, you’ll may actually feel more relaxed and energized than you do after a full night’s sleep. If you get in the habit of meditating each day, you will easily be able to breathe more deeply throughout the day. And, when you’re faced with a big challenge at work, you can take one of those deep, cleansing breaths before you tackle the problem at hand. This will help you slow down, step back, and figure out the best way to handle almost any problem or obstacle.
Meditative walks and nature walks are additional ways of calming down and resting your frantic mind so that you can center yourself. Grounding yourself while being connected with nature can be a powerful way of finding the space in your mind for creation and inspiration. For the past two years I have been walking our Yellow Labrador Retriever through Japanese forests almost every day for about an hour in the early morning hours. It is still a refreshing surprise to me how much calmer I am during the day because of the early morning walk and how often the final 10-15 minutes of the walk turn into a firework of creativity and inspiration. As a result I have added journaling to the contemplative practice of nature walks so that on the one hand I translate the creative energy into written recordings, and on the other hand release once again all the thoughts and ideas that could block or distract me.
Bolster Your Creativity
You never know when you’re going to have a brilliant idea. However, if you’re constantly running at a break-neck pace to keep up with your job, your family, and everything else in your life, that moment and that idea may pass you by before you even realize it.
Taking time to contemplate opens your mind to new ideas and creative thoughts. You may not have that break-through moment while you’re contemplating, but taking the time to shed unnecessary stress and distractions will help you see it more clearly when it does occur.
More and more large corporations are embracing mindfulness for its benefits for team members and leaders. In fact, Google actually has a course available to employees that teaches mindful breathing, listening, and techniques for enhancing emotional intelligence. When a company as large as Google, with one of the best ratings for employee satisfaction, gets behind mindfulness, even the biggest skeptic should take note. Try a few minutes of mindful breathing and meditation each day for a week or two and see what differences you notice.
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