One of the key elements of Core Confidence is self-awareness: an understanding of self in relation to others and the environment and being completely comfortable in this space. To develop this self-awareness, we need to be consciously present – mindful.
Now when we talk about mindfulness it’s not all deep breathing and yoga practice, rather it is focus. Mindfulness is, above all, about being aware and awake rather than operating unconsciously. The power of operating consciously has enormous physical and mental benefits: less anxiety and stress, increased efficiency, lower blood pressure and the enhancement of emotional intelligence (another big topic! We’ll cover this in a future blog post)
When you are operating at a conscious level in the workplace, you’re aware of two elements: a focus on what you’re doing while you’re doing it; as well as your mental and emotional state.
Bringing mindfulness to your day not only means you are more productive, you’re also engaging the ‘wise’ part of your brain, enabling decisions that are based on reason as opposed to reaction. An ability to ‘slip into’ mindfulness is particularly useful in high-pressure situations, allowing you to rebalance your nervous system and hold your own space.
A growing number of organisations – including big names such as Apple, Google, McKinsey and Company, Deutsche Bank and Procter & Gamble – are incorporating mindfulness into their company culture, providing programs for their employees to nurture this skill. For good reason – having a productive, happy and emotionally intelligent workforce is a fantastic competitive advantage!
So how can you develop your own mindfulness skills?
1. Intention. Make a decision at the start of each day and set the intention to be as present as you can
2. Focus on your breath. Stop to take three conscious breaths to interrupt the fight or flight response and minimise the “monkey chatter” of the mind
3. Single-tasking. Doing one thing at a time means you are doing it better. Multitasking is inefficient so avoid it at all costs
4. Slow down. Pause, reflect and consider before making decisions and actions. Slowing down speeds you up and allows your brain to be more efficient
5. Set reminders. Our brain’s default mode is to be lost in our own thoughts. There’s no shame in shaking ourselves out of autopilot to consciously focus. Set a vibrating alarm to remind you to step back and reflect.
To become mindful, you must invest in yourself. Although when you are in the midst of ‘peak times’ the idea of taking a 15-minute walk or slowing down to refocus can seem like too much, what you are actually doing is creating a path for yourself out of overwhelm.
As the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu reputedly said: “By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond winning.”