Dr. Paras, Life-Leadership Coach & Founder, Mattrix
Dr. Paras is a passion-driven leadership mentor, coach and trainer transforming personal & professional lives of clients and influencing paradigm shifts in their organizational thinking.
What do we mean when we talk about mindfulness? It is the congruence of thinking, emotions and actions. It can be defined as a psychological and spiritual process of evolving and growing awareness of body, mind and spirit. Here, observing and questioning is the focal points of living in the moment leading to accountability, effective communication and emotional sensitivity to oneself, others and the environment. It is the ability to detach from fantasy and unconscious patterns. These are the programmed behaviour where we do not challenge the status quo just because we have been doing it for years. The aim is to create balance and equanimity.
People who are oblivious about themselves, not investing in self-analysis, not observing their surroundings and not ready to learn & unlearn certain parameters are the ones who can never be good leaders as they lack the mindfulness to gain that maturity. A leader needs to be open to feedback and ditch their programmed behaviour where they choose to rather ‘reflex’ i.e. react instantaneously to a situation rather than reflect. This is what leads to the lack of accountability and sometimes, over-rationalisation from the leader’s end when it comes to making decisions or structuring a model for those who look up to him for guidance.
So, how can leaders train themselves when it comes to mindfulness? Here are the five steps that will help:
Learn & Unlearn: We humans grow every second of our lives and yet, there is stagnation when it comes to learning new concepts, ideologies or fundamentals. Many times, in order to learn something new, one has to unlearn or let go of what was taught to him before. The process of unlearning is sometimes more difficult than learning because we have wired ourselves in collating experiences and lessons and are rarely willing to let go. A mindful leader is always open to new learning opportunities and is ready to unlearn concepts to make space for new ideas.
Let Go of the Pattern: Be emotionally sensitive. Several men are not ‘supposed’ to be emotionally sensitive which leads to repressed emotions and erupts like a volcano in the form of anger and subjugation to negativity. Being sensitive enables leaders to connect with people irrespective of their nationality and cultural background. It is only about being human. There is always a conflict between ‘what I should and what I have to do’. Mindfulness is about letting of programmed thoughts and beliefs where leaders can finally open up about their thoughts and are more welcoming to change and positivity.
“A leader needs to be open to feedback and ditch their programmed behaviour where they choose to rather ‘reflex’ i.e. react instantaneously to a situation rather than reflect”
Rely on Open Communication: Open communication is a to and fro transfer of ideas which need an ever-flowing channel or medium. A mindful leader can engage in open communication and idea exchange with people around him to assess their thought processes and quantify the amount of growth that is left untapped. In order to thrive in open communication, a mindful leader must:
• Be open-minded to new ideas and thoughts.
• Be willing to observe.
• Be willing to listen more than just hear
• Arrive on conclusions that are based on cognitive thinking and not preconceived notions.
Indulge in Self Analysis & Reflection: Today, people are more concerned about others perception and are terrified that they might not have a good impression in the first few minutes of their meeting. This thought of relying on others to validate yourself will lead to doubts and unsupportive thoughts. As a mindful leader, one should engage in the process of analyzing oneself and reflecting upon their own actions without the intervention of a third party, Self-analysis and reflection enables leaders to open themselves up to new thoughts and the mistakes as well which they can now rectify.
Be Aware of Your Environment: As a leader, it is important for you to be in tune with the environment that you are living and leading in. This awareness can only be achieved if you are observing things around you, rather than inspecting them. The need to be attentive to the slightest of change and the imperativeness of questioning even the minute details is an important part of being a mindful leader. This proves that you are concerned about the ongoings and are aware of the issues that pertain to the surroundings. You can improve your observational skills by:
• Training the mind to be watchful of things without any emotional involvement.
• Have the eye on the prize while maintaining emotional sensitivity.
• Staying calm in the case of chaos.
• Disconnecting with what is not important.
Reflect & Not Reflex: We have a very interesting habit of assuming that we are right about everything. The stubborn streak in our minds is always coaxing us towards ‘What I want’ rather than ‘What Should Be Done’ This action is more on the lines of reflex and not reflect. To attain mindfulness, one should be able to look at things via the inner eye and assess it pragmatically, devoid of any sentiments or benefit. By investing in time and effort to hone oneself and take actionable insights, one achieves the credit of being reliable and credible in his actions. By reflecting upon the existing ideas and taking relevant actions proves the agility and capability of the leader to be more proactive for the sake of his team.
There is no such perfect mindfulness. It is a constant journey to self-development and truly mindful leader will be able to embrace this concept of continuous betterment and be a greater role model to those who have chosen to follow him.