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The Mindful Leader | Part 1

Daniel Montgomery Reality, self awareness

DANIEL MONTGOMERY
Founder & CEO
Leadership Reality

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

You’ve been heads down for hours working on a critical project. You finally come up for air, only to realize it’s 6 PM and you’re not even halfway done.

Your back is in knots from an entire day spent hunched over a laptop.

You’ve not seen any of your team members since the morning huddle, much less interacted with anyone outside the digital wasteland that is social media.

You’re tired and dejected. You’ve been busy for hours, but you have no clear sense why. You wonder whether anything you’ve accomplished—this week, this month, this year—is of any real and lasting value.

Oh, and you just realized you promised to pick up the kids from soccer at 5:30…

Have you been here? I know I have. For business leaders, it seems like we’re always chasing after that mythical sweet spot where everything just seems to “click.”

Try as we might, we can never seem to find our groove. Instead, we struggle to manage time, suffer the consequences of stress in our bodies, alienate ourselves from the people and places in which we live, and lose touch with our deeper purpose in life.

What Do We Do?

Imagine if the scenario I painted above was more the exception than the rule.

Imagine if, at the end of each day, you got up from your desk with a sense of deep satisfaction. Imagine a delightful conversation with one of your team members on the way out to the parking lot. Imagine leaving your briefcase at the door—both literally and metaphorically—to spend a fully present evening with loved ones at home.

What would you give to make that your reality?

Recently, more and more business leaders have discovered their answer: mindfulness.

What Good is Mindfulness in the Workplace?

Just last year, the mindfulness industry generated $1.2 billion in revenue—a full 7% of America’s alternative care market. That number is projected to top $2 billion by 2022. #mindfulness #leadership Click To Tweet

As a boon to productivity, mindfulness has taken the corporate world by storm.

In 2015, Aetna attributed a $3,000-per-employee bump in productivity to mindfulness training alone. Google, Apple, Nike, General Mills—these are just a handful of the Fortune 500 companies who’ve also bought into the mindfulness “revolution.”

Businesses aren’t the only ones to have jumped on the mindfulness train. Schools across the U.S. are embracing it as an effective way to reduce student anxiety, promote mental health, and encourage positive behavior. Even Congress has gotten on board.

Just last year, the mindfulness industry generated $1.2 billion in revenue—a full 7% of America’s alternative care market. That number is projected to top $2 billion by 2022.

In mindfulness, business leaders and individuals alike have found the killer app for reclaiming their center and leveraging their new consciousness for outstanding results.

people on spiral staircase

Sign Me Up?

Popular as it is, not everyone is ready to bring mindfulness into their homes and workplaces. What is it, anyway? Isn’t mindfulness just Eastern religion in disguise?

Yes and no.

Mindfulness entered America’s bloodstream back in the 70s through a molecular biologist named Jon Kabat-Zinn. A long-time practitioner of Eastern religion, Kabat-Zinn wanted to bring the benefits of his spiritual practice to non-spiritual Westerners.

So, in 1979, he developed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Today, there are more than 1,000 certified MBSR instructors in over 30 countries, Kabat-Zinn is a world-renowned author, and mindfulness has worked its way into the Western limelight.

How Does It Work?

I’m going to cut through the noise and serve up the most immediately helpful insights and exercises leaders can use to start seeing results today. - @dmontgomeryLR #mindfulness #leadership Click To Tweet

Mindfulness has become a grab bag of Eastern-inflected bits of advice for busy Westerners. If you do a Google search for mindfulness, you’ll immediately come up with a dizzying array of principles, perspectives, and practices to wade through.

For the next 5 posts, I’m going to cut through the noise and serve up the most immediately helpful insights and exercises leaders can use to start seeing results today.

Here’s a preview: 

  1. Time – Learn how not to let memories of the past and worries about the future keep you from maximizing your work in the present.
  2. Place – Reinvigorate your entire operation by making a place where employees engage, and the community prospers.
  3. Body –Release pent-up emotions and focus your attention through a better awareness of your present physical state.
  4. Social Structure – Knit your team together by discovering your place within the network of people of that surround you.
  5. StoryRecover your sense of meaning and purpose by learning to identify the false stories distract you from the true story unfolding before your eyes.

Still Skeptical About Mindfulness?

I am too.

As a Christian, there are elements of Eastern practice I just can’t accept. At the same time, mindfulness has a lot to teach leaders—Christian, Buddhist, or Atheist—about what it means to be personally aware, fully present, and highly productive.

We’re all looking for our sweet spot—that deep groove where passion and purpose align. Together, let’s see if a thoughtful approach to mindfulness can help you find yours.

Keep an eye out. I’ll be back with my post on Time in the next couple of days. 

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