I like how mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness. He says, “There is nothing particularly unusual or mystical about being mindful. All it involves is paying attention to your experience from moment to moment.”
For the leaders I coach, much of their workday moments are spent in email, in meetings, or tap, tap, tapping on their cellphones. Also competing for their attention are one-on-one interactions with clients, colleagues, and direct reports. It’s easy for them to be anything but focused in the present moment.
That said, I think most people will agree that being as present as possible, in the here and now, is valuable. We’ve all experienced having someone be fully present with us, really focused on what we had to say. It’s quite energizing. When we strive to be more in the present we give a gift not only to people we interact with, but also ourselves.
How about you? Could a little more mindfulness help in your interactions with others? Here are a few points to keep in mind.
- Knowing about mindfulness is not practicing mindfulness. I’ve heard a lot of people say, “Oh, mindfulness, sure, I know what that is.” Then they dismiss it like it’s old news. But in reality, they may have never tried practicing mindfulness.
- Mindfulness is a learned habit anyone can acquire. Just wanting to be more mindful doesn’t make it so. Instead, we have to be intentional and we have to practice. The good news is that absolutely anything we do can be an opportunity to practice greater awareness.
- If at first you don’t succeed… If you commit to practice mindfulness, you will notice that the mind definitely seems to have a will of its own. What to do? Every time your mind starts to leak away, bring it gently back. Bring your consciousness back to what is taking place in the moment.
- Focus on the present—not the past or future. As we work to be more in the present, we often find ourselves thinking about things that happened in the past or something that may or may not happen in the future. This causes us to unproductively spin our wheels. Mindfulness is about focused attention in the present moment.
It’s not always easy to remember to be mindful. Trust me, I know from experience! But the rewards from being in the here and now—in the present time and in the present space—are plentiful. Any movement toward more mindfulness is better than not trying. If you are interested in learning to be more mindful, the internet is loaded with more information. Give it a try. I would love to hear about your mindfulness experiences.
About the Author
Joanne Maynard is a senior coach with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services.