It is easy to forget about the present moment in favour of worrying about working towards a future one, especially during times of workload and management pressures. Yet accepting the moment we are in and being mindful of it and the people in it is the first step for gratitude for having the blessing of being present and alive. It is also essential for giving attention and justice to those in our responsibility. The article below explores the concept of mindfulness further and how to learn more about it. 
Recent progress in management practice is often likened to being an efficient machine: systematically processing problems, and racing to become as efficient and effective as we can be.

But is this the right way to approach leadership? If you take heed of academic studies into mindfulness, then no, it is not. There is a vital role for values within leadership, and that means being in touch with our emotional states, finding space to reflect and engage with the moment. Or, put another way: acting, therefore, with human mindfulness rather than automation.

How many times have you made decisions while carrying in the emotion from a previous meeting? Is your day set up to support you doing one thing at a time or do you allow constant distraction?

Being in the moment

If time is one of the most precious gifts we can give as human beings, it is perhaps even more so as a leader. If we give our time to others, we owe it to ourselves and our teams to be present for those moments.

As Sylvia Boorstein, a great mindfulness teacher, said: “Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without clinging to it or rejecting it.”

Six steps to greater mindfulness

So what can we do to be more present in our leadership?

  1. Take a breath; being more present starts with our breath. A slow breath for a couple of minutes brings you back to the now.
  2. Set an intention to be present; our intentions drive our focus. What are you doing now? By being a witness to what you are doing and deliberately feeling more aware, it will help you become more connected with the present.
  3. Proactively start a mindfulness practice. There are lots of resources to help, such as the app Headspace, or the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, which has plenty of free resources.
  4. Notice the reoccurring negative thought patterns or situations at work where you always worry and counter them by being present with intention.
  5. As a leader, begin by shifting your attention to the person in front of you, practice listening intently, don’t just wait for your “air time”. You will find there is a better personal connection and decisions feel quicker and more collegiate.
  6. In team meetings, check in with each of the participants to ensure everyone is engaged, including yourself. Time taken to pause and re-engage will be well spent.

Written by Tes member: Stuart Rimmer

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