I coach some talented executives but they still struggle with leadership. They spend much of their day leading from a place that is addicted to speed and multitasking, thriving on chaos. The result, they are unable to sustain the pace, and they are missing a lot along the way.
These leaders have been recognized and in many cases promoted for their ability to be terrific “doers”! In the doer mode, their mind rushes from one task to another without really knowing what they are doing. Over time, they are left feeling disconnected, stressed out and exhausted.
A great leader is someone who pursues shared goals while staying attune to what’s happening around them; has the courage and confidence to deal with difficult issues; leads from a place of openness and vulnerability; and provides clear direction and grounding for others.
How can you lead others when you are unable to tap into your intuition, and listen… I mean really listen…. to those around you and what is required from you in the moment? How can you be a great leader when you feel stressed out, exhausted and overcome by the chatter in your head?
One step to switch off the chatter is to take a moment to breathe – yes, breathe.
Many of you are doers and may be interpreting what I am suggesting as an additional ‘to-do’ on your never-ending ‘to-do’ list. For you, frame this as a reminder to take a few minutes in your day, when you need it most, to focus attention on your breath. Perhaps:
- Before you deal with a challenging situation or have a difficult conversation.
- When you need to shift your attention from a task to focusing on a conversation with a member of your team.
- When you feel tired or frustrated.
- When the chatter in your head is so loud you can’t think!
Focusing on your breathing can be done as simply as identifying your in-breath as an in-breath, and your out-breath as an out-breath.
“This is an in-breath; this is an out-breath”.
- Enjoy your in-breath;
- enjoy your out-breath; don’t force it;
- let it be what it is; enjoy it.
Taking a few minutes to focus on your breathing – breathing in; breathing out – brings your mind back to your body. When you are focusing on your breath, you stop the chatter – the chatter around you and the chatter within you. It quiets your mind; it provides you with the renewal and perspective amidst all that is happening around you. It allows you to reconnect with the qualities that are within you to be the great leader you want to be.
Interested in learning more?
The Mindful Leader, Awakening Your Natural Management Skills Through Mindfulness Meditation, by Michael Carroll
The Mindful Way Workbook, by John Teasdale, Mark Williams, Zindel Segal