Mindfulness and Leadership – become “Leader of YOURSELF”
Updated: Sep 20, 2019
Have you ever thought about what is the most valuable thing you as a Leader can give your people? Something that will be still valuable and important to them even in 20 years’ time.
It is all simple but not easy.
As I started in my first leadership role, I had a very clear picture of what it means to be a good Leader. That was the simple part. However, I soon found out that my “Leadership vision” was not so easy to live. My “Leadership” was totally opposite to what I was picturing. I was a stressed, busy, tired, and mentally absent manager. The consequences – health issues, frustration, and dissatisfaction.
“Is it possible to lead others if I am not able to lead myself?” was a fair question. To become a “Leader of Myself” first was the difficult part.
Sometimes it is useful to be “down”, because digging deep is a good place to start. The journey back was difficult, however, one of the most enriching in my life. Besides the fact that I started to be the Leader I wanted to be, I discovered mindfulness…or did mindfulness discover me 😊?
How can mindfulness help you to be a Leader of yourself?
When you look a bit closer, you soon realize that the solution lies between your ears – the brain. The biggest rivals are our habitual stress reactivity and the autopilot – without being intentional about it.
“OUR SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS DEPENDS ON HOW WE CAN CULTIVATE OUR MIND”.
Mindfulness training is a brain training during which you practice your muscle of attention and awareness – to maximize the time of being in the present moment. It will soon spread into your life, where you start to pay attention to your inner and outer world. You become an “observer of yourself” which helps to better understand your thoughts, emotions, body signals. You start to be more self-aware – you now know the rival 😊.
“WHAT YOU FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION TO STARTS TO HAPPEN IN YOUR LIFE”
Only when you understand yourself better you have all the information you need to learn how to control “your rival”. Stress reactivity patterns and the autopilot are slowly losing their power and your behavior starts to represent who you really are and what you really want.
It is a very natural process, you start observing others better understand them and dealing with them will be smoother and more enriching.
Stress starts to be your friend helping you to better understand through your body what is wrong and how to respond.
One very important part of mindfulness training is empathy and compassion, which are the key pillars for creating trust and relationship. Lack of trust is the most prominent reason of a team dis-functionality.
The “side effect” of my mindfulness training is heightened emotional intelligence, which is the key success factor for leaders.
One thing which is fascinating is the Neuroplasticity of our brain. This practically means that with mindfulness training we can “physically reshape our brain” to our benefit. We increase grey matter in parts of our brain responsible for focus, problem solving, emotional regulation, learning, and reduce cell volume in our “fight, flight, freeze” center responsible for our anxiety, fears, our stress reactivity. This makes us more stress resistant, mentally resilient, creative, healthier and happier, but above all you become yourself better under control.
Some big corporations and professional athletes have already applied mindfulness based training. The first step is to be open to start to feel the effect, and then you will see the benefits.
My biggest lesson learned as a Leader? Help your people to be able to Lead themselves, then you do not have to worry about the rest.
Mindfulness training can make this journey easier. I have started the mindfulness journey 5 years ago and it has made me a better leader and a better person.