Mindfulness for leaders

Modern day leadership is fast-paced and stressful. Business leaders are inundated with high-pressured decisions requiring immediate action with little room for error. Study after study has shown the benefits of mindfulness.

First, let’s think of mindfulness as stopping your thoughts and being in the now with no distractions.

By practising mindfulness and helping people create a one-second mental space between an event and their response, it can be the difference between making a good decision and bad decision. One second can be the difference between a rushed decision that leads to failure and reaching a thoughtful conclusion that leads to increased performance.

Mindfulness can be the one-second lead over your mind and your emotions. It’s the difference between displaying anger and applying due patience.

How does this work?

Mindfulness changes how we engage with ourselves, others and our work. The practice changes how our brains work so through repeated mindfulness practice, brain activity is redirected from ancient, reactionary parts of the brain, including the limbic system, to the newest, rational part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex.

As a result, the part of our brain that controls 'fight or flight' and knee-jerk reactions becomes less active, while the part of the brain responsible for our thoughts, words and actions becomes more active.

How to start practising mindfulness

1. Observe the present moment as it is. It isn’t always about quieting the mind; it is more about paying attention to the present moment.

2. Let go of your judgments. When judgments arise, make a mental note and then let them pass.

3. Keep returning to the present moment. Mindfulness requires us to keep returning to the here and now when our minds start to wander.

4. Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up; just consistently recognise when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back.

Making the most of your leadership qualities

I would encourage you to try the following four tips to help make the most out of your leadership qualities:

  • Try to practice ten minutes of mindfulness each day to train your brain to be less reactionary and more active.
  • Avoid reading email first thing in the morning. Our minds are generally most focused, creative and expansive in the morning. This is the time to do focused, strategic work and have important conversations. If you read your email as you get up, your mind will get sidetracked and you’ll begin the slide toward reactive leadership. Making email your first task of the day wastes the opportunity to use your mind at its highest potential. Try waiting at least 30 minutes, or even an hour, after you get to work before checking your inbox.
  • Turn off all notifications. The notification alarms on your phone, tablet and laptop are significant contributors to reactive leadership. They keep you mentally busy and put you under pressure, thereby triggering reactionary responses. They cause damage far more than they add value. Try this: for one week, turn off all email notifications on all devices. Only check your email once every hour (or as often as responsibly needed for your job), but don’t compulsively check messages as they roll into your inbox.
  • Limit multitasking. It keeps your mind full, busy and under pressure. It makes you reactive. Try to maintain focus on a single task, and then notice when you find your mind drifting off to another task - a sign that your brain wishes to multitask. When this happens, mentally shut down all the superfluous tasks entering your thoughts while maintaining focus on the task at hand.

    If you and your company would like guidance on how to practice mindfulness in the workplace, please get in touch.

    Master Oh

    Master Oh is a London-based energy healer and natural health practitioner with more than 25 years’ experience working with the original energy that creates life, which is Qi energy. Having himself suffered and overcome chronic issues at an early age, he has dedicated his life to sharing his healing method with the world.

    He has opened Qi centres in Australia, America and Europe, and is constantly looking to help more people live free from physical, emotional and mental pain. Master Oh believes that by developing our innate good-hearted, generous and compassionate nature we can not only bring health and happiness into our lives, but also bring peace and harmony into our world.

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