“Always hold fast to the present. Every situation,indeed every moment,is of infinite value,for it is the representative of a whole eternity.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
It’s easy to be mindless.
In fact, mindlessness is a natural part of the human condition.
We go into auto-pilot for so many things everyday, and this often helps us make it through our day. But it can also hurt us.
We can break out of mindlessness and become more mindful.
In the book, Anticipate: The Art of Leading by Looking Ahead, Rob-Jan De Jong shares three ways that leaders can practice mindful leadership and develop their mindfulness.
1. Grow Your Mindfulness by Creating New Categories
One way to grow your mindfulness is to create new categories. Creating new categories helps us gain new insights and see things in a fresh way.
“The first has to do with relabeling, reframing, and re-categorizing–an existential awareness and willingness to challenge the mental constructs that drive your thinking. It’s what children do automatically as they engage with their creative and imaginative side, but adults often lose this capability over time.
The experience we gained throughout our lives has been categorized and fixed in our minds, creating a belief system that we depend on and feel motivated to keep as is.
Mindful re-categorization will bring us new insights and more options to consider.
But it requires a willingness to challenge our belief system.”
2. Grow Your Mindfulness by Welcoming New Information
Another way to grow your mindfulness is to be curious. It means challenging what you “know” to be true. It means dismantling your “truths set.”
“Second, a mindful state implies openness to new information. This might sound simpler than it actually is. Most of us consider ourselves to be open-minded, but we all get used to a set of ‘truths’ we discover in our lives that become helpful, reassuring, and practical to hold on to.
We dislike when this ‘truths set’ is challenged or dismantled.
It’s unsettling and results in an unpleasant state of confusion.
That’s why we have a natural tendency to shield ourselves from information that doesn’t conform to what we like to believe.
We maintain a status quo of beliefs and a deluge of new information.”
3. Grow Your Mindfulness by Adopting More than One View
Another way to grow your mindfulness is to add multiple perspectives and to play out multiple possibilities.
“The third aspect of mindfulness as defined by Langer is the adoption of more than one view, and being mindfully aware of and open to other views.
Once we realize and embrace that there are as many different views as there are observers, we allow ourselves to see a more complete picture.
Pierre Wack’s quest, which led to the art of scenarios planning, is fully in line with this aspect: Exploring scenarios and preparing for different futures is mentally liberating, providing you with a richer palette of options to consider.”
Mindful Leadership in Practice
Rob-Jan De Jong shares the story of a friend who practices leadership mindfulness. His friend is a purser on a Boeing 747 and practices mindfulness with every take-off and every landing.
Via Anticipate: The Art of Leading by Looking Ahead:
”Well, she knows experience along is not enough. Mindlessly relying on it to help her act in times of stress would be too risky, regardless of how well trained she is.
Instead, she has adopted some purposeful practices she applies on every flight.
Because takeoff and landing are the riskiest moments of a flight, she takes 30 seconds once she is seated to mentally rehearse the emergency procedures. On every flight. Every time they take off and every time they land.
That’s a form of mindful leadership put into practice.”
Mindless is a Natural Part of the Human Condition
Mindlessness is a natural thing. We all fall victim. The way to reduce mindlessness where it counts is to first become aware of it, and then practice mindful habits.
“It’s important to understand that mindlessness is part of the natural human condition; it would be difficult to find anyone who doesn’t fall victim to it at times.
The best way to avoid falling into ever-present mindlessness traps is to first become aware of them; you can grow this awareness through periodic assessment and honest reflection on your recent actions and behaviors.
Next, you can develop some practices that will help you reduce the risks of mindlessness in your own role and responsibility, just like our family friend has done, since she knows that her automatic behavior might not cut it when she needs her mindfulness most.”
Mindfulness is a way to capture more moments, and to make the most of them.
There is a lot of power in the now.
Don’t throw your power, or your moments, away.