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This post is authored by Tray T.S. Deadwyler, a civic strategist, servant leadership coach, and national service expert.
Though our world and work are continually changing, being mentally nimble and mindful is essential to adjusting to the ever-ebb and flow of life.
Some of us at this very moment noticed the word "mindful" and immediately thought of meditation and yoga attire, or maybe a crystal bowl and chants. Others may be thinking of affirmations and theta-wave soundtracks. But there is vastly more to the practice and
application of mindfulness in our lives.
Simply stated (though not as easily practiced), "Mindfulness is focused attention, on purpose, at the moment, and without judgment." Mindfulness is a skill. It is to be developed, improved, and enhanced within all of us. Mindfulness traverses the various contexts of our lives and makes us better humans and better leaders.
It enables us to be more present, introspective, empathic, vulnerable, courageous, and authentic. I believe these are characteristics of the people and leaders we want and need in our lives, workplaces, and communities. These characteristics could also be considered modes and manifestations of the same. The more you practice, the more you become.
How deploying mindfulness elements could affect our day-to-day
For the sales and marketing teams, it shows up in every campaign, every event, and every ask. Having a better grasp of what your customers and clients care about may produce a better result. We can also agree that connection is our ideal and goal, so our communication must be authentic to our company's brand, vision, and values.
Mindfulness shows itself by taking another look at the scheduled email to ensure it is the right moment for what is happening globally. It is checking the “Yes” box for speaking to the gap while also checking “Yes” to being vulnerable and reflective, ensuring our personal biases are not skewing the copy.
For the CEO, it may look like "the second ask" during the morning coffee break. You may notice anguish or confusion on the face of a team member who is typically upbeat and magnetic. Being present, you listen carefully to a canned response (we have all been guilty of this) and discern that their response isn't congruent with their physiology.
It takes courage and empathy to ask again, "How are you, really?" In that simple inquiry, you have allowed for vulnerability and introspection at that moment. Maybe they need a listening ear or are feeling stuck on a particular challenge. Taking a few moments to be right there in the moment can mean the world to team members and yield immeasurable results.
For the finance team, mindfulness allows us to effectively communicate why a decision was made. It marshals emotional intelligence to foster an understanding of your current state while having the ability to appropriately respond to others within the organization. Budget cuts can have some pretty personal consequences, but I have found over the years that when we can thoroughly explain the why, how, what, and when, changes seem to be a little more palatable.
And at home, many of our relationships could benefit from us being a little more attentive, having courageous communication, and forming congruency of thought and actions, consistency in the peaks and valleys, an open heart and mind—all while becoming our truest, most authentic selves.
Unfortunately, these elements of being mindful are not always dispensed toward people of color in the spaces we live and work. If we are to be mindful of this moment, there must be intentional vulnerability and presence with active ears to global protests and cries for justice and equality.
The challenge and the triumph of the mindful leader is internal and external awareness. Being present and introspective also means you are constantly searching yourself for biases, prejudices, limiting beliefs, and judgments about yourself and others. We live our lives from the inside out; how we interact with the world is merely a reflection. The authentic and courageous leaders we admire to avoid placating and passive conversations. They step up to correct the missteps and their indignation compels them to act.
Some questions to consider:
- Typically, how present in the moment are you, especially to those who matter?
- Do you find yourself distracted or drifting during conversations?
- Are you aware of your communication styles, triggers of temperament, the filters, and beliefs that drive your behavior?
- Are you able to connect beyond your own experience and understand the feelings and emotions of another?
- Are you honest about your imperfections? Do you feel that you can express them?
- Are you challenging your thoughts and taking courageous actions in various areas of your life?
- Do you feel that you are wearing multiple masks that cover your truest self?
Did you find some of these questions difficult to answer? That's a start. It can be challenging to determine where to go when we don't know where we are.
One way to begin is to try this simple exercise when you have a moment:
- Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit.
- Set a timer for 63 seconds.
- Sit silently, eyes close for the full 63 seconds.
- Just be there.
After the time has ended, ask yourself:
- What did you notice during the exercise?
- Were you distracted by your thoughts during the activity?
- What were your thoughts about?
This simple practice can help you with the first element: Presence. Continue this practice for at least once a day and increase the time as you feel more comfortable. Keep a log and identify any patterns. The goal is for you to notice how much your attention is focused on the now.
Imagine our homes, communities, and workplaces with more presence, introspection, empathy, vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and inclusivity intentionally in play. What benefits do you foresee? What challenges do we need to overcome? How can you personally encourage an environment where mindful lives and leadership thrive?
This mindful journey begins with self-study and responsibility and ends with cultural change. May you be and become the mindful leaders for moments such as this.
Tray T.S. Deadwyler is the Founder of Think for Good, which supports leaders and organizations to increase their efficacy through creative ideation, planning and implementation. Think for Good works collectively with their clients to push beyond the conventional to develop innovative solutions. embodying the company mission, “Solve it Together.” They are committed to systemic problem-solving and co-creating a theory of change to achieve success in any area of life and leadership.
Affectionately known as the "Service Nerd" by his colleagues, Tray focuses on developing cross-sector solutions and training professionals to effectuate empathy in communities. With service to the community at his core, Tray’s civic and professional transcript spans organizations such as the American Red Cross, Atlanta Police Department, Communities in Schools, Morehouse College Spelman College, Points of Light Foundation, and the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, Angels in Distress, Love Beyond Walls, and One World Link.
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CM Group is a family of global marketing technology brands including Campaign Monitor, CM Commerce, Delivra, Emma, Liveclicker, Sailthru, and Vuture. By joining together these leading brands, CM Group offers a variety of world-class solutions that can be used by marketers at any level. Headquartered in Nashville, TN, CM Group has United States offices in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New York City, Pittsburgh and San Francisco, and global offices in Australia, London, New Zealand, and Uruguay.