A guest blog from my very good friend, Matt Tenney…
Typically, when considering approaches to improve business outcomes, we compartmentalize. We look at ways to improve overall strategy, the skills of our leaders, sales, customer service, etc.
What if there were something very simple that we could do personally, moment-to-moment, that has a significant impact on nearly every area of our professional or business success – a sort of “success habit”?
The simple practice of mindfulness is just such a habit. This is why many leading companies like Google, Intel, Raytheon, General Mills, and Genentech offer mindfulness training for leaders and employees in all positions.
Mindfulness training is just a simple shift in perspective that allows us to create and maintain some space between ourselves and our thoughts/emotions. As simple as this sounds, making mindfulness a habit has numerous links directly to the bottom line. Below are three examples:
1. Increased Stress Resilience – Perhaps the most well-researched benefit of the practice of mindfulness is helping people to face stressful situations with a reduced adverse stress response. Reducing the adverse effects of stress has a direct impact on profit because it helps people to be more creative, make better decisions, be more productive while at work, miss less days due to illness, and reduce health care costs.
2. People Skills / Emotional Intelligence – There is now a tremendous amount of research demonstrating what thought leaders like Dale Carnegie had said for decades: The single most important ingredient for high levels of performance, especially as leaders, is emotional intelligence, commonly referred to simply as “people skills.” Mindfulness is arguably the most effective method there is for increasing emotional intelligence, which is why one of the most popular training programs at Google is a mindfulness-based, emotional intelligence program called Search Inside Yourself (there is a great book by the same name, written by Google exec Chade-Meng Tan, which I highly recommend).
3. Mental Agility – Mental agility allows us to quickly adapt to a rapidly-changing business environment: an invaluable skill. Also, in cutting edge research in behavioral finance, mental agility has been identified as one of the two most important predictors of whether or not a person will be profitable over the long term. Mindfulness was designed to increase mental agility and has been shown in research to do so.
Although not easy, mindfulness training is very simple. We can create the aforementioned shift in perspective simply by mentally noting what we’re doing now. If we’re sitting and waiting, we just silently say in the mind, “Sitting and waiting.” If we’ve done that, we’ve just created space between ourselves and our thoughts/emotions. The trick is maintaining that perspective! To do that while still, we can simply maintain awareness of our breathing. To maintain mindfulness during activity, we can simply be curious about what our present moment experience is like, keeping our awareness open to what’s happing now. When we get pulled into our thoughts again, we just mentally note, “Distracted,” and open our awareness once again. Repeat as necessary.
Matt Tenney is a professional speaker and trainer, a mindfulness teacher, and author of the book From the Brig to the Boardroom: Why Mindfulness Is the Ultimate Shortcut to Success. To contact Matt, visit www.MattTenney.com.