Local Singapore boy Chade Meng-Tan has made it to the highest ranks of Google, yet he’s not recognised for his exceptional engineering talent (which he clearly has), but is globally recognised and sought out for his contribution to the field of mindful leadership.
"A mindful leader embodies leadership presence by cultivating focus, clarity, creativity, and compassion in the service of others. …It requires full and complete non-judgemental attention in the present moment. Those around a mindful leader see and feel that presence" so says the Institute of Mindful Leadership.
Chade Meng-Tan was responsible for developing Google’s ‘Search Inside Yourself’ course back in 2007. Today, the waiting list for this in-house Google course can be up to 6 months. Most major companies from Google, Facebook, Twitter, Intel to Apple, Starbucks and Yahoo are using some forms of mindfulness as a business tool.
Mindfulness is about consciously paying attention to where you are, who you’reworking with and how you are impacting the now. By being present, managers can have a greater awareness of the value of their actions with those around them. Mountains of data exist to prove that mindfulness, both personal and professional, reduces stress and boosts clarity and concentration and thereby enhances leadership.
Here’s a couple of key exercises entrepreneurs can do to bring about calmness, clarity and compassion that will serve you well in life and business.
Putting aside a few minutes of your day to do a brief breathing meditation routine is one of the easiest ways to cultivate mindfulness. Sit still and observe your breath as it goes in and out of your lungs. Just observe and focus on your breath. Any creeping thoughts that enter your head (which they will, seemingly relentlessly!) should be banished as you consciously return to your breath. Whether it’s for 15 minutes or 60 seconds, you should experience a degree of immediate calm.
And with calmness comes clarity and perspective that can hone your attention levels and make you more effective.
Swap your multitasking for delegation. Pare back the number of fronts that you are operating on and focus on what is most important. By eliminating needless rush you can focus on matters and people that are before you, here and now.
Dorotea Brandin, a Singapore based author and entrepreneur, says that mindfulness for SME’s “… should not be misunderstood as fire fighting by reacting as best we can to present circumstances. It is instead a state of being where you slow down and where you are perceptive to your own emotions as well as those of others.”
Take a break
Spend time in nature. Recharging your batteries through a short walk through a park or along the coast where you might also listen to your breath can be of huge benefit to your focus and attention span, making this time for your mental landscape is healthy and habit forming. Thinking thoughts of kindness and compassion whilst you take your break will re-invigorate you.
Chade Meng-Tan swears by compassion. He says highly effective people feel you, understand you and want to help you. Empathising with those around you inhibits excessive self-obsession and creates humility. Compassion grows high-level leaders.
Ask yourself how you can be of value to those around you? What will make them happy? How can you make a difference to someone’s day? By consciously empathising and feeling for those around you on a regular basis you form the habit of compassion. Cultivate compassion.
So next time you find yourself a few spare moments amidst the hustle and bustle of business, resist the urge to pull out your phone and instead, take a moment to listen to your breathing, focus on clearing your mind and just take time to empty your mind.
In fact, before you share this article with someone who needs it, take a couple of minutes to yourself right now…
by Callum Laing