Does “mindfulness” have a place in business?

According to Google, which offers employees a course on mindfulness meditation, and Lululemon, a company that keeps a Director of Mindfulness on staff, the answer is a resounding yes.

Mindfulness, as American scientist Jon Kabat-Zinn defines it, is simply “paying attention in a sustained and particular way – on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.”

Research has shown that practicing mindful meditation can lead to reduced stress, lowered blood pressure, increased brain activity, and improved immune response. It’s also been shown to have measurable value for companies when their leaders and employees practice mindfulness, too.

Here are a few ways taking a more mindful approach to running your business can lead to greater success.

The power of positive thinking

A simple shift toward a more optimistic outlook can help increase receptivity and lead to more creative problem solving. In an article in the Harvard Business Review, emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goldman states that “pessimism narrows our focus.”

What if instead of coming quickly to “no”—or making decisions on auto pilot – your organization spent more time ruminating on “maybe”?

By staying open to possibility you may just notice a remarkable improvement in how innovative your small business can be.

Improve your culture

Businesses led by entrepreneurs who are personally committed to self-improvement tend to nurture healthier, more desirable work environments, which is absolutely vital to attracting top talent.

Research has shown that millennial workers (who will number 86 million by 2020) are interested in work that creates positive change. They want more than a paycheck from a company; they want support for their personal and professional development as they strive to make a difference in the world.

In addition to attracting top talent, it’s been shown that a healthier, happier work environment results in a more motivated and productive team.

Enhanced leadership skills

Megan Reitz and Michael Chaskalson—professors at Hult International Business School—found three leadership capabilities were enhanced in those with mindfulness training. Those capabilities include resilience, the capacity to collaborate, and the ability to lead in complex conditions.

Reitz and Chaskalson also discovered the key to more mindful leadership comes down to three crucial “meta-capacities”: metacognition, allowing, and curiosity.

Metacognition means being able to observe what you are thinking, feeling, and sensing with detachment so you can make better decisions;

Allowing is simply “letting be”—by approaching situations with openness, without judgement or criticism, you can see a situation for what it really is;

Curiosity is vital because it requires sustained interest and inquiry—a desire to deepen an awareness of the moment, sidestep assumptions, and “go deep”.

Reitz and Chaskalson found that with practice, leaders became more responsive than reactive in their decision making—and that difference led to valuable change for their organizations.

Final tips

In business a mindful approach can helps you maintain active attention on what really matters in the moment, and avoid reactive decisions that may not be in your company’s best interests.

Check out the Potential Project for some free online mindfulness training materials including a guided audio session, practice manual, and app.

If you’re ready to discover what greater mindfulness can do for your business, try practicing mindfulness for ten minutes each day—and mind the results.

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