The new learning culture: becoming mindful

by Christian Kurmann

In today’s day and age, busy lifestyles have become the norm and stress levels are increasing exponentially. Being a leader, whether of a business or of a family, is a stressful position and the responsibility of everything eventually leads to fear. Given all these factors, how is it possible to slow down and make better decisions?

 

 

 

The answer is simple: mindful leadership.

 

In the grand scheme of things, this is a relatively new concept. Its roots are in ancient Eastern practices, but it is being used more and more in Western society to calm the mind, focus and lead with everyone’s best interests in mind.

Mindfulness is defined as being the quality or state of being conscious or aware of the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. Being fully aware of the present moment allows us to take in everything around us, focus and make a clear decision. This is absolutely key in leadership when your decisions affect the lives of so many around you.

This is where fear can creep in. Fear is a negative emotion that affects all parts of life by creating a stressful environment. When thoughts are fearful, the mind runs wild, reducing our ability to focus and to be present in the situation. Constant “what ifs” appear in the mind. We must reflect upon the fear to find the root of it and thus find peace by dealing with the issues that fear conjures up. Mindfulness can alleviate fear by removing the anxiety of the future from our minds and focusing on the present moment which in turns lead to better decision making.

The frightened mind cannot trust which is why it cannot be relied upon – this is a notable issue. Without trust, decisions will never be good. Trust in oneself, in one’s abilities and in the abilities of those employed is crucial because without trust, there is fear.

Another issue that affects leaders is that of pleasure. While not inherently a bad thing, pleasure can become all-consuming, leading to a self-serving and selfish leader. But this is not the attitude a leader needs to have. Leaders are there to serve the interests of those who work hard for them.

Pleasure can be almost like a drug; it can lead to self-indulgent behaviour which makes a leader lose sight of the common goal by only serving individual needs. We see this so often in various forms of corruption and the outcome is never good.

 

Mindful leadership is the answer, but how does one go about becoming a mindful leader?

 

There is no quick fix, no 10 step programme; it takes time and practice. To become mindful, one needs to be present, and to be present, there is absolutely nothing better than meditation. Meditation focuses the mind on the present moment and allows you to observe your inner self and quiet the mind, thereby ensuring freedom from fear and self-serving behaviour. To be centred and focused allows better decisions to be made. By integrating mindfulness and Eastern practises with some traditional Western leadership practises, it is certainly possible to become a more effective and fulfilled leader.


 
 
Christian Kurmann