Mindful Leadership: An Inside Job with External Results

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By Daniel Gutierrez

You may be asking, what does it mean to be a mindful leader? Well, we must begin by defining mindfulness. Simply put, mindfulness or being mindful is the act of becoming aware. It’s the act of becoming present in the moment. When we are in the present, we have the ability to control our emotions, to allow ourselves to become centered, and to really become aware of the power we have, to lead from a more solid place.

Meditation is just one way of becoming mindful. One can also achieve this through the practice of yoga or quite simply by taking a mindful walk, being aware of your surroundings, noticing your breath, and ensuring that your mind does not wander.

In an article published in The Harvard Business Review “How Meditation Benefits CEOs,” Emma Seppala cites five benefits of mindfulness through meditation:

  • Meditation builds resilience
  • Meditation boosts emotional intelligence
  • Meditation enhances creativity
  • Meditation improves your relationships
  • Meditation helps you focus

However, there have many ideas and practices that have been introduced to the business community in an effort to increase the bottom line. The practice of being mindful is not about what is on the outside, but rather what is on the inside—it is an inside job with external results. In other words, one can become mindful but when faced with stressful situations, they may not be able to use what they have learned.

The next step is the application of mindfulness. I like to call this radical mindfulness. It is the constant redirection of our thoughts on a moment-by-moment basis, allowing us to redirect our thoughts and emotions toward our current problem or situation. If we practice radical mindfulness we are not allowing ourselves to wander into the past or future, but rather staying focused on the present moment. This allows us to stay calm and centered, to be focused and compassionate, adaptable to change, and have the ability to listen and make more thought out decisions.

Ultimately mindfulness and the practice of radical mindfulness can have long-lasting results for leaders way beyond business. It creates more centered lives with results in body, mind, and soul; therefore leading to more compassionate, focused, thoughtful, and focused leaders.

How should you start? Turn off your phone and give yourself sixty seconds. Find a quiet place, close your eyes, and just notice your breathing. Most of you may find that hard to do at first. That is why it is called a practice and we all know that practice makes perfect.

Hear more from Daniel Gutierrez at the Men of Color Leadership Conference in New York!