What is mindfulness? What does it mean and how can it benefit you as a busy, successful professional? Mindfulness is simply another word for meditation. Although we are all likely familiar with the practice of meditation, it can often be hard to grasp if we’ve never tried it before, so we will explain it a little further here, as well as it’s intimate connection to Executive Presence.
What Mindfulness Is Really All About
Mindfulness, or the act of mediating, has its roots in Buddhism, and teaches being present in the moment; more than that, it teaches to always be attentive to, and accepting of, one’s thoughts, emotions, and responses – without judgment.
Apart from its deep connection to Buddhism, mindfulness has grown since the 80’s to become part of Western culture in various ways: from a method of helping children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder to soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and beyond. More recently, mindfulness is being used as a tool within Fortune 500 companies to help top performers excel.
Mindfulness and Executive Presence
The main pull of mindfulness for these high-level professionals is its ability to improve performance. Some of the biggest names in the game have recognized this, and have even adopted “mindful practices,” such as Google and General Mills. Not only does mindfulness practice help with focus, but it can also present a pretty hefty ROI for companies that adopt it.
In fact, according to Mark Bertolini, chief executive of Aetna Insurance, mindfulness benefits can yield an 11-1 ROI (in reference to less health care costs for the “mindful”) (Anne Kingston for Maclean’s: “Mindfulness Goes Corporate – And Purists Aren’t Pleased”).
But where does Executive Presence come in? A characteristic that is integral to Executive Presence is the ability to remain present; the individual with high levels of EP is always focused on the present, charismatic, engaged and attentive. This person makes you feel like the center of the universe when you speak to them. When they are working on a task, they are thinking about that task, and that task only. It is clear then, that a person with high levels of Executive Presence is also, subsequently, mindful.
To break things down even further, here are some proven leadership advantages of mindfulness training, according to MindfulLeader.com (mediating on a regular basis for no more than 30 minutes):
- Increase in productivity and creativity
- Decrease in knee-jerk behaviour that is often linked to poor decision-making and damaging relationships
- Increase in the density of gray matter in the brain area essential for focus, memory and compassion
- Decrease in blood-pressure, cortisol (stress hormone) and depression
- Increase in immune response, emotional stability, sleep quality, resilience
In conclusion: the simple act of meditating for a short period of time on a regular basis can actually help to improve your Executive and Leadership presence, putting you at a distinct advantage. It all comes down to focus and most especially, awareness.
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