“How can I keep my mind clear, focused, and responsive?” Is the question of the week.
The stress of the the ever-evolving landscape of 2020 and 2021 is beginning to catch up with even the most grounded of us. Pandemic or not, my answer is always the same: you incorporate a mindfulness practice, or visualization technique into your daily routine.
Today, I integrate mindfulness into everything I do so I can stay present in a situation and let go of past mistakes, but that wasn’t always the way. 10 years ago I had the exercise and diet components of my well-being regimen dialed in, but I wasn’t addressing the mental piece directly. I hadn’t yet realized that my mind and thinking needed just as much attention and training.
If you find yourself struggling to consciously choose how you want to respond, whether or not things are going your way, so you’re better able to push performance boundaries, show up as your best, and maintain the necessary focus and resilience to achieve your goals, I’ll tell you what I tell my clients—it all begins with a deep breath.
It’s not as far out there as it sounds. Let me explain.
How To Incorporate A Mindfulness Practice Into Your Work and Home Life
1. With Your Management Team
“They just keep butting heads and snarling at one another!” my client explained, clearly exasperated. He couldn’t resolve the fact that some of his key team members didn’t communicate effectively, to say the least.
He believed nothing could change this. This assumption led to a disturbing conclusion—live with the way things were, or find a new management team.
I explained to him that when you already believe you ‘know’ something won’t work, because of a past experience, you might not even consider it a possibility in the future. Further, if you do try it, you might either subconsciously sabotage your own efforts, or move in a counter-productive direction.
What do you do when you and a team member have conflict?
I invite you to an examining of perspective. How might the people in these relationships see the friction? And, if you were in their shoes, who would you need to show up for you. Then go be that guy. It’s that simple. You change, they change.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes. My inbox is always open.
2. With Work Colleagues
Remember the last time a work colleague showed up to a scheduled meeting 15-minutes late with no heads up? In an instant, you’ve created a story in your head, telling yourself he doesn’t care about the meeting. Doesn’t value the work, or respect your project deadline.
When someone does something that triggers a catabolic reaction, causing strong emotions to arise, we say they “pushed a button.”
But what if you didn’t have so many buttons to press? What if you could control the way you react to those triggers? Good news, you can. Next time someone pushes one of your buttons, step away, and take several deep, fortifying breaths in and long exhales out. When your mind wanders, notice you’ve been distracted, let it go, and return to your breath. Then ask yourself, “What might be my button and what do I take it to mean about me?” Then give yourself some space and time to consider the responses you’ve come up with, as well as other potential ways of seeing the situation.
Just realizing that there are other ways to look at something, lessens the power of an interpretation and improves your ability to choose how you’d like to respond, rather than react, when the situation comes up again.
The next time you’re ready to snap at someone, try this instead. It’ll work out better this way. Trust me.
3. With Your Children
“Buddy, please don’t ever do that to me again.” Despite the drama of the moment, my client’s quiet self-reflection created a pause, some space, to be able to shift from reflexivity to greater choice. Rather than act on his initial impulse, which was to reactively yell, “Get in the car! How can you be so irresponsible and disrespectful? You’re so grounded!” Consciously aware of his choices around how to respond to his teenage son who had missed his curfew by several hours, and still hadn’t been heard from. Grateful he hadn’t compounded the situation by getting into a shouting match with his child, or creating barriers between them that can be hard to repair.
Does this sound like you? Or are you still jumping to an impulsive, reactive response?
Despite hearing the tone of his dad’s voice on the phone, demanding he stay where he was, and feeling sacred himself, when he got in the car he gave his father a hug while replying, “I’m sorry I scared you, Dad.” Witnessing his son’s loving reaction, his anger dissipated further and my client realized he didn’t have to be upset anymore.
All three of these scenarios could play out one of two ways. The way you’re currently responding—short, frustrated, angry, edgy, or a new better way. A way that has you captaining the ship, riding the waves with ease, grace, and a sense of adventure.
A 90-Second Exercise To Release Stress
Next time you’re feeling bombarded by the input of the world around you, or you find yourself on the receiving end of a frustrated team member, wife, EA, or even child:
- Slow down and notice the feelings in your body.
- Take 5 deep breaths, try exhaling longer than you inhale, if you can.
- As you do so, feel your mind begin to center and calm itself.
- Check in with your body again. Are you still holding tension? If so, repeat steps 1-3 until your body has relaxed and released the stress. Typically, you’re back to your best self in 90-seconds tops.
90-seconds seems worth it to me. What do you think?
If you find yourself struggling to consciously choose how you want to respond, whether or not things are going your way, so you’re better able to push performance boundaries, show up as your best, and maintain the necessary focus and resilience to achieve your goals, feel free to reach out and see how I might be able to help you sharpen your tools, to lead more effectively.
Or check out these other musings:
Live With The Way Things Are, Or Find A New Team?
Shifting From Impulse To Greater Choice