Your mind is the most influential force in your life. It is responsible for your moment to moment experience and influences every aspect of your ability to lead.
Conscious mindful thoughts are at the root of conscious mindful leadership.
With access to a constant stream of information, you are constantly exposed to information and imagery. Before it ever gets to you, news editors, advertisers, even your Facebook friends influence the quality and tone of your the information and images that inundate your mind.
Why is this important? Your unconscious mind influences your judgments, emotions and behavior. It’s responsible for most of your decisions and it takes in its environment primarily through images.
With so much information, imagery and emotion coming at you, it can be overwhelming. Overwhelm manifests as a roller coaster ride of feeling out of control, alternating with the urge to numb. Often we numb ourselves with the very thing that is causing the overwhelm – more information.
Curate your mind’s content – or someone else will.
An overwhelmed mind is a fearful mind. It is narrow, stifled and reactive. A consciously selective mind is at ease. It is open, fluid and creative.
The curator of a museum art show carefully selects which pieces will represent an artist or collection. Whether a piece makes the cut is determined by its quality and how it will influence the experience of the observer.
You are your mind’s observer. You must also be its curator – selective of the source and disciplined with how you consume information. By taking responsibility as the curator of your own content, you protect and consciously influence your unconscious mind.
As a leader it is important to understand the dynamic between your conscious mind and how your unconscious influences everything you do.
Take a moment to consider where you receive the bulk of your daily information. Learn to discern between information and opinion. Pay attention to when you cross the line between being educated versus caught up in a story that isn’t your own.
Daily Mindfulness Practices
Access to limitless information is here to stay. How you consume it and what you do with it is becoming a mindfulness practice in itself.
Here are some ideas to help you become aware of the pull of technology and its associated distractions:
- Pay attention to how many times a day you pick up your phone in the middle of doing something else.
- Set limits on your screen time.
- Get technology and television out of your bedroom.
- Have routines for the beginning and the end of your day.
- Develop a daily mindfulness practice.
Meditation is no longer considered an esoteric practice reserved for solely for hippies and spiritual types. Meditation lowers stress levels and teaches you to be more present, two important characteristics of conscious leaders.
Many people shy away from meditation because they don’t know what to do, and feel silly just sitting there. If you’re not sure how to meditate, there are many high quality meditation websites, programs and apps available. (My personal favourite is Headspace.)
This is a daily practice from The Artists’ Way by Julia Cameron.
Write three pages of whatever is in your mind first thing in the morning. Morning pages are not meant to be clever or flattering. Your only goal is to just write – without judgment. According to Julia Cameron, your internal perfectionist keeps you submerged in your fear, negativity and moods. The stream of stuff that you write is what stands in the way of you and your creativity.
I remember feeling awkward and whiny the first few times I adopted this practice. Part meditation, part mind dump, you aren’t supposed to go back and read your morning pages at first. The sole purpose of your morning pages is to clear the way for the clarity, creativity and solutions that eventually follow.
Conscious mindful leadership begins with YOU.
A true leader knows that they can’t ask others to go where they do not go themselves. A leader who selects information consciously and develops mindfulness practices earns the right to ask others to do the same. A mindfulness practice allows you to listen to the truth that speaks to you through nudges and inspiration. As a leader, you are an example of possibility. Know that by connecting with and being true to yourself, you are redefining leadership and others will benefit and follow your example.