Mindfulness At Work - Are You Present and Accounted For?

By Mary Beth Hazeldine

November 20, 2016

We've all had it happen to us. We walk into another room to get something and once we get there, we can't remember what we came in there for.    

Mindfulness at Work is the Single Most Important Factor for Good Leadership 

If you are or were ever a commuter, I'm sure there was at least one occasion where you missed your stop because you were daydreaming or thinking about something, such as what you needed to get done once you got home.

Perhaps you were deep in thought while driving your car and you cruised right past your exit or the road where you were supposed to turn off.

Even scarier yet is the fact that we get behind the wheel and drive from A to B, most of the time with very little recollection of how we actually got there.  

In my weight loss coaching, one of the things I focus on with my clients is to eat consciously. Many people are surprised to learn that most of the time when they are shoving food into their mouths, they are not even aware of it. How many times have you robotically reached into a bag of crisps or potato chips while reading a magazine or watching TV, totally oblivious to the act of actually eating the crisps or aware of how many you're eating? This one simple change to conscious eating, not only makes the act much more enjoyable and memorable, but we tend to eat a lot less if we're paying attention to what we're doing and to the full signals that the stomach is sending to the brain.

I was conducting a leadership development programme in London 2 weeks ago and I asked the group what percentage of their time they felt they were fully engaged with the task at hand or the person in front of them. This was a group of highly intelligent executives who already held senior positions within the organisation. The initial consensus was that they were fully engaged about 10% of the time, but upon further reflection, they all realised that even this number was perhaps too optimistic.

Employees today are being asked to take on more and more responsibility and the corporate environment can be quite demanding. This group of leaders saw exactly how much of their time was spent worrying about the future, going over things that had happened in the past, wondering how they'll get everything done and multi-tasking in an attempt to accomplish as much as possible. Rarely were they every fully engaged, with a clear mind, with the person or task in front of them in the present moment.  Imagine what a huge different it would make in the work environment if these leaders demonstrated mindfulness at work.

All of these examples serve to demonstrate that we are living in a world of thought - usually thinking about the past or the future - and rarely mindful and present.  

I like to think of thought as a fan spinning, sometimes faster, sometimes slower, but it is always spinning. It is supposed to spin and it is futile to try to stop it, because this is how we experience life.  

It is enough, just to be aware of what is happening and how we are creating our reality. From this awareness, comes the wisdom not to be lured by every thought and go down those rabbit holes that take us away from the present moment.

Just like we can be taken into an imaginary world when we read a good book, our thinking takes us into daydreams every single day. These daydreams are no more real than the dreams we have at night while we sleep, yet we believe them and focus on them to the detriment of what is going on in the real world around us and being mindful.  

Mary Beth Hazeldine is a teen mentor, executive coach, leadership consultant and corporate wellness advisor.  She helps individuals, professionals and organisations tap into the wisdom and intelligence that allows them to be "in the flow" more often and experience success and mental wellbeing. You can find out more about Mary Beth and her work at purepotentialparadigm.com