HBA Philadelphia and HBA West Chester joined forces on 23 August for an evening of networking, humor and active engagement to explore the topic of mindfulness in leadership development. More than 50 people attended the event and enjoyed spectacular views from The Pyramid Club while learning more about mindfulness and practicing techniques to leverage in our everyday lives.
Harriet Stein, with a well-deserved reputation as an inspirational teacher, presented a case for exercising the practice of mindfulness to benefit both our personal and professional lives. Being mindful- having an active awareness of our thoughts, our physical state and our moods is a practice that anyone can exercise and that enables us to stay actively present in our busy lives.
Among the list of qualities defined by great leadership, a top few–engagement, focus, and empathy–remind us of the value we place on our leaders “being present.” Citing Maya Angelou’s famous words, Harriet underlined that it is the way we make those around us feel that remains most memorable and influential. Thus, developing our abilities to be actively engaged, listen with focus, and connecting with empathy, are business tools we can all cultivate though mindfulness to better influence value in our teams and promote satisfaction and productivity in the workplace.
Here are a few tips that Harriet shared for incorporating mindfulness into your everyday life–both personally and professionally:
- Right here, right now, is the only moment that exists. Give yourself permission to 'notice' and to not dwell on things that have happened in the past. Acknowledge, that the only thing that exists now is this moment and move on to the present.
- When you enter a (meeting) room, engage with others instead of keeping your head down checking your email. Commit to being present and letting people know you are present and engaged. It's the best way to build relationships
- Notice 'where your head is' during conversations and meetings. If you find your mind drifting, notice it, acknowledge it and then refocus your attention to where you are presently.
- When you are angry or upset about something, take a moment to pause and notice. Then take a deep breath and move on. Be mindful and try not to be judgmental. You don't know the context for the other person's actions. Focus on yourself and being in the present moment.
- Don't sit for more than 45 minutes. When scheduling activities or meetings, plan for breaks accordingly and feel free to make them fun. Stand, stretch, walk–whatever you feel comfortable with.
- Find 10 minutes for meditation or quiet focus every day. Morning is a great time for "sitting confidently" with your feet flat, eyes closed and palms up.
In our ever active and demanding lives, it is tempting to consider that an extra dose of time and energy will enable us to do more. What if you could create the extra time and energy to lead a healthier, more productive work-life balance? Harriet proposes that being mindful can do just that; not only it helps our ability to focus, it also allows us to improve our mental clarity and deal better with stress. And the best part is that exercising mindfulness can be done anywhere, anytime. As Harriet stated at the close of her presentation, "We are all mindfulness practitioners and it takes a lot of practice. We can't change anyone but ourselves." No time like the present to begin cultivating this critical leadership tool.
Special thanks to all the volunteers who helped with this event, from its inception through its fruition: Sheetal Deshmukh, Laurie Donoris, Mel Pilar Espaillat, Michele Kemp, Linette Keyton, Nancy Kovach, Ana Landino, Lisa MacDonald, Jasmine Raysor, Nidhi Saxena and Susan Spitz.