MASTER MINDFULNESS because this leadership practice is your foundation for winning in the New Normal. A wealth of new research has confirmed its many benefits.
Whispers are always messages, and if you don’t hear the message, the message turns into a problem. And if you don’t handle the problem, the problem turns into a crisis. And if you don’t handle the crisis, it becomes a disaster. ~ Oprah Winfrey
In my 21st Century Leadership journey, I have had the great privilege of a long friendship with an extraordinary human being, Frances Hesselbein. She is one of the most highly respected experts in the field of contemporary leadership.
Frances serves as President and CEO of The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute, and Editor-In-Chief of Leader to Leader, an award-winning quarterly journal that brings leaders together to address strategic issues. She is the author of “Hesselbein on Leadership” and “My Life in Leadership,” and co-editor of 27 other books published in 30 languages. She was awarded the United States of America’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for her innovative leadership of Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., and for serving as a pioneering role model for women, diversity, and volunteerism.
So when Frances speaks, I listen.
One night we were talking about the cacophony that hijacks our attention and makes reflection so difficult. “There is so much noise,” I lamented. “Opinionated pundits are jabbering non-stop on TV about a whole world seemingly run amuck. If we add it up, it’s more than overwhelming. We are being bombarded by so much about what is going on, it’s sometimes hard to know where we are going.”
“What can we do about it?” I asked.
“Stop the noise for a while and listen to the whispers. If you don’t, you will miss many important messages.”
Master Mindfulness: What’s In for You
A wealth of new research confirms the many benefits of Mindfulness. Today it is considered a practice of supreme importance for sustaining success in the New Normal.
Consider the cost-benefit analysis. The Mindfulness practice costs you only a little time each day. I have personally found the benefits to be extraordinary. My top three are:
- Concentration Capacity — The first benefit I noticed was how sharply I could focus my attention and suppress distractions. Also, regardless of what I was doing — creating, conversing, exercising — I could remain sharply focused for longer periods of time.
- Cognitive flexibility — Mindfulness increased my skills of self-insight, intuition, and situational awareness. I have found all of these to be key to adapting to new circumstances.
- Health Benefits — Many studies have shown that Mindfulness has numerous health benefits. For example, because it reduces psychological distress, it increases immune functioning and produces an overall improvement in well-being.
Mastering Mindfulness begins with “Emptying Your Cup”
There is a story, often told, about a very busy man who came to a Zen master seeking wisdom the secret to Mindfulness. As he entered the room, the master smiled and softly suggested that they share a cup of tea. Without pausing, he began to pour tea into the man’s cup.
The master stopped pouring and smiled again. “Your mind is like this teacup, so full that nothing more can be added. If you want wisdom, empty your cup.”
How can you empty your cup? Begin by paying attention to your breath, and becoming present in the moment. Observe your thought waves as they come. Notice them, but let them flow by without judgment. Stay focused on your breathing. Slow it down. Allow your body and your mind to relax.
These are the first steps for emptying your cup, simply ATTENDING to the moment by relaxing physically and mentally. As your cup empties, you will be able to listen to the whispers.