Living in the now.
Why is it so hard to do?
In today’s world, we are multi-tasking more and more – and yet, are we really getting anything additional done? Are we benefitting – or is it that we’re stressing more and accomplishing less, our minds and our productivity troubled and suffering.
Many of us accept this as the new normal – the important moments in our lives at home and at work drowned out by a cacophony of self-consciousness and anxiety.
You’ve got a deadline to meet tomorrow, and it’s going to be tight – miss it, and you lose the contract. You’re not prepared for that meeting with the bank next week. Must remember to call admin and get those reports sent over. Will the car get through its MOT? Your child’s being picked on at school. The phone rings. Cold call – yes, you are worried about your internet security, but now’s not the time. Five years ago, you were late for the interview for your dream job – you were prepared, you were confident… you were late. And now – now you’ve got a deadline to meet tomorrow. But there’s an urgent email from downstairs…
Let’s hit the pause button for a moment.
We’re used to juggling too many balls at once. However, as we’re frantically flaying around trying to keep them all in the air, we’re prevented from taking the actions needed to keep ourselves and our colleagues focussed and productive.
Left unaddressed, sooner or later these balls will come crashing down like lead weights, shattering everything they land upon. We know this, and we begrudgingly accept it – for we haven’t got the time to think about what to do to bring about change.
Or at least – we don’t think we’ve got the time.
A stretched-thin and stressed-out workplace shouldn’t be the norm – but somehow, we’ve allowed it to be. It’s become the accepted culture. It’s become life. Our minds are cluttered and unfocussed – singularly and collectively. And beneath the racket, in the mists of distraction, the important moments – the present – is slipping by.
What Is Mindfulness?
Ultimately, it falls upon business leaders to change this culture; to promote focus and compassion in place of haste and fear.
It’s the concept we call “mindfulness”.
Clearing your mind and living in the moment is not about sacrificing productivity. It’s about tuning out the noise and focussing – quite deliberately – on what’s in front of you and what’s important.
Many studies have shown that mindfulness at work can increase productivity, engagement and innovation – all of which lead to positive business results. In two studies published in the journal Mindfulness, for instance, researchers found that the more mindful the leader, the lower the employees’ emotional exhaustion. The second study also found that employees working under mindful leaders are more friendly towards their co-workers, and help out their team more.
Mindfulness is all about keeping a sharp focus on the present, about living and working in moments. So let’s hit the pause button again and think about how we create a moment.
How We Create a Moment
Life happens only in the here and now. It does not happen in the future – our perception of which coloured and clouded by our expectations, conjectures, worries, and hopes. Nor does it happen in the past – our perceptions of which equally distorted by the stories we tell ourselves about what occurred, who was there, what was said, and what it all meant.
Life is only available to us in the present, and we must train our minds to keep their focus on the right here and right now. When we can do this, the mind is on our side.
We all know this to be true. When we are mindful – when our minds are trained on the present – the mind is helpful, creative and focussed, solving problems and coming to decisions. In these moments, it is on our side.
But so often the mind is unhelpful – jumpy, distracted, and overthinking. It’s worrying about the future and ruminating over what’s already passed. It’s hooked into fears, anxieties, doubts, and just won’t put them down. It’s being judgemental of others, and of ourselves. It’s fragmented, inattentive, wild. In these moments, time rushes past unobserved and unseized. The present slips away. The work is undone. The mind is not on our side.
For the mind is now running on autopilot. We’re doing things – conversing with colleagues, crunching the numbers, attending a meeting – but we’re not really there. We’re not paying attention – to the people around us, to the task at hand, nor even to the experience itself. Our minds are snagged on our worries, fears, anger, regrets. We are not mindful of being where we are, and so we are forgetful.
Of course, there are certain times when autopilot is helpful – we can drive a car perfectly safely whilst listening to the radio, for instance, and we never forget to blink or breathe. But autopilot too often kicks in when our perceptions should be on high-alert. We are distant when we should be present. Our awareness fizzles away and we don’t really see, take in or experience what’s happening in front of us.
Mindfulness – Our Minds on Our Side
We don’t want to be forgetful. We want to be alert, present, heedful. This is what makes us focussed and productive. This is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is when you are truly there in each moment – not just in body, but in body and mind together.
Mindfulness skills teach us to reconnect with ourselves and others in the moment – our one and only true home. It helps us to become more attentive and grounded.
In the workplace, these are important skills to master. Tomorrow’s deadline isn’t going away. You need your decision-making brain switched-on and perceptive. You need to focus on the work in front of you. You need to listen to advice and soak it in. And, what’s more, you need all of your colleagues around you to be doing the same. You need to be fostering mindful connections with mindful people.
Having everyone learn how to stay grounded in the present moment helps to minimise distractions, and combats the culture of constant fear, frustration and emotional exhaustion. It’s about team development – about alignment, connections and trust.
Cutting out the mental clutter is key to regaining control of our attention and becoming more productive – together. I’ve seen this work for so many people who have made a real difference to both their private and professional lives. Maybe now is the time you began your mindful journey.
If you want to learn how to live your life in the present moment, and keep your team engaged, refreshed and productive, let’s talk about a new way of thinking. Please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07754 829799 today – now is the time for change.