Why Harvard Says Mindfulness Is A “Must Have” For Leaders

Image for post
Image for post

You’re pushing your team on a daily basis. It’s “always on” for you and you expect the same for them.

The only problem?

They’re exhausted. They’re not as productive like they once were. They don’t execute as efficiently like they did even 10 days ago and the year just started….

Working 60-hour weeks isn’t letting them recharge so they can hit it with their best efforts, but you don’t see that.

You don’t see that you’re pushing them beyond their limits. You don’t see that your drive is driving them into the ground.

You’re worried that if you slow down, you’ll stop. But if you want positive results, if you want to hear the roar of the crowd, if you want your corporate dashboard to highlight your success…

It’s time to get off the hamster wheel.

It’s time to focus your mind.

It’s time to become aware of what you’re doing…to yourself and to everyone around you.

The research is quite clear. Employees perform better and are happier when their managers and leaders are more mindful.

While mindfulness is not a new practice, the effectiveness of it in business is more apparent than ever, especially with today’s pixelated life.

Leaders directly affect the performance of their subordinates, so mindfulness training is being credited with lowering employees’ stress levels, increasing their performance, and increasing their job-satisfaction levels.

For example, the hippocampus is the the part of the brain associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection. It’s also associated with emotion and memory. According to a 2011 study at Harvard, this region of the brain showed “significant increases” in grey matter density among people who participated in an 8-week mindfulness program.

But before you dismiss this as a woo-woo practice, give it a shot for a minimum of one month.

I challenge you. Are you ready?

If you’re not afraid of the results (feeling better about yourself, becoming more self-aware, and helping others to be their best), then you’ll jump on this challenge today.

How Mindfulness Works

Mindfulness basically means becoming aware of yourself, your body, your physical reactions to stressors, etc… And there are many, many ways to become more mindful and to practice mindfulness.

So in this month-long challenge, you’re going to have to train your brain to focus a little each day. At the end of it all, you’ll find that you are clearer about yourself, your goals, and how you can achieve them.

Day 1–7: Sit with your back against the wall. On a pillow, if you like. And stare at the opposite wall for 5 minutes. Don’t think of anything but your breath. Your brain will pull you away from the up and down movement of your chest and your belly, but don’t let it. When you wander, don’t give up. Talk yourself back to your breath and continue looking at the wall in front of you.

Day 8–15: Increase your time by five minutes. Continuing to focus only on your breath. Really note your reaction time to stressors that once triggered stressful behavior before, especially at work.

Day 16–23: Increase your time by five minutes and continue the practice of focusing on your breath. Try adding deep breathing to this week’s challenge. You may feel yourself trying to solve problems during this ultra-quiet time, but don’t allow it. Tell yourself you can do it when you’re done.

Day 24–31: Continue with the 15–20 minutes of focus each day, journaling your results. Did you find that you were calmer in times of crisis? Did your slowing down and paying more attention to yourself push your employees to do the same? Did they show up happier? Did they start helping and become more empathetic toward each other?

More importantly, make note of what is going on in the office too. Did your employees, in fact, do a better job while you were focused on being more mindful?

In all of this, the lesson is: Who you are affects the people you are with. Be mindful and see where it leads your team this year. Your folks need you to step it up this year. The choice is yours so choose wisely Skywalker.

Written by

Keynote Speaker | Mindfulness Maven | Happiness Muse | Author | Diversity & Inclusion Advocate | www.devinchughes.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store