The Mindful Way to Self-Leadership

Updated: May 8, 2020

By Nicole Gottselig

The Harvard Business Review published an article in 2018 that opened with:

“Mindfulness is a crucial skill in business.”

Without knowing what came after or what the story was about, does this statement resonate with you? Do you disagree or maybe you just don’t know/care.

Of course, there is no right or wrong answer here. I ask it because the term “mindfulness” will evoke different meanings for everyone, especially when the term is woven into the context of the workplace.

What may be considered an overused catchall term for the answer to everything that ails you, at the core, mindfulness practices help you to focus your attention and improve your emotional intelligence.

Two skills that are highly critical for your day-to-day work life and career development.

When you become more aware of what you focus on and how you react to situations that pop up, you take the lead. Thereby, becoming a self-leader or the captain of your career journey.

Here are three benefits of tapping into mindfulness-based practices:

Stay in the Flow State Longer

According to 50,000 RescueTime users, we have, on average, just over an hour each day of uninterrupted productive time.

Our brains are often switching back and forth between alerts, messages, and apps constantly throughout the day. This trains us to become more susceptible to distraction and less inclined to longer bouts of focused attention.

Adding to that, every time a new Slack alert goes off or a colleague drops by your desk to ask a “quick question,” it’ll take you, around 25 minutes to get back into the sweet spot: commonly known as the flow state.

When it’s time to hunker down and work, simple mindfulness techniques can help you focus.

One way is to up ante on the soundscape in your periphery. That is, turn off all your alerts and tune into some background ‘noise.’ Check out Noisli’s background sounds to drown out sounds in shared workspaces or to simply help you focus.

Self-Regulate Your Emotions and Create Stronger Connections

How self-aware you are about your emotional state is a crucial component for making sound decisions and forming bonds with others. The more aware you are of your current state of mind, the more aware we are of others around us.

Non-verbal cues such as tone, pitch and body language give all the personable elements that we need for all the spontaneous interactions we have when in the office (aka. water cooler chat).

These signals also give us context. Without them, we can easily misinterpret an email or text message and jump to conclusions based on our own fears or assumptions.

Often, when difficulty arises or pain or fear or worry, we react automatically. Think of that email you received from a manager or a client that rubbed you the wrong way. In mindfulness, this is referred to as “automatic pilot”.

The next time you are irritated by a colleague or situation at work, try simply observing what the other person is saying and doing. Listen with the lens of considering that you have no idea what they are going through instead of assuming the worst.

Another practice is to take a short time out before or after a meeting. Simply spend a few minutes focusing on a sensation in your body, sounds or breathing; to stop the automatic cycle, which gives us a tool to consciously break states of mind, which are harming us. That is, causing us suffering. Not trying to change what is happening but change our reaction to what is happening.

Better Problem Solving and Increased Creativity

Mindfulness practices help us step out of automatic pilot and see things, people, situations, and creative ideas as if we were looking at them for the first time.

Thereby, opening up a door to possibilities without automatically creating a story or outcome-based solely on past experience or future wishful thinking.

The key to generating original ideas then becomes less about searching for them and more about remaining open to all possibilities.

Only then can we connect the dots between what our one-sided viewpoints may deem unrelatable.

Easy, right? Don’t worry, there are several practices that get you into the creative thinking zone simply by calming and focusing the mind.

Try this simple practice to give yourself fresh eyes to come up with a solution, a story, or a new idea:

  • Set a timer for two minutes

  • Close your eyes

  • Place both hands on your lower belly

  • Focus all your attention on its rise and fall

  • Every time you catch your mind wandering, simply come back to the rise and fall of your lower belly

  • Open your eyes when the timer goes off

  • Do this as many times as you need throughout the day to shift from automatic pilot to the here and now


About Nicole Gottselig

Nicole has been practicing mindfulness meditation for 7 years, completing two programs in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Anxiety and Depression in Toronto, Canada. She’s also attended numerous workshops, courses, and classes in mindfulness based-practices in India, Bali, and Germany. In addition, Nicole leads bi-weekly mindfulness-based meditation sessions to her colleagues both in-person and remotely. Clustered note, Nicole has one of the most calming and reassuring voices out there, spending time in her mindfulness sessions is a concentrated form of bliss.

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