I was going to share with you my three steps to mindfulness in business, silver bullets to transform your crazy busy lifestyle into a harmonic oneness with all that is commercial, only, I don't have any silver bullets, because there aren't any.
Mindfulness in business is just choosing the present moment over all else, you are simply allowing the situation to unfold. If someone is speaking, you are listening. If something is being demonstrated, you are silently observing. If you’re completing a task, your mind is on that and that alone. From that stillness your authentic responses will arise when needed. It's not about being a robot, detached from the conversation, just detached from constant overlaying of thoughts on a situation. You will have stopped covering over what is unfolding with an internal narrative, one calculating and creating counters, rebuttals, agreements and everything in between. If you do manage to quiet the mind you will be more present in that moment with your client, colleague or task than you will have probably ever been.
I work with start-ups who are focused on improving sales, and business development. I assist them in the identification of their ideal client and from there, the creation and development of a value proposition with the structure to apply it in a strategic way. With the people I work with, mindset is never the driver for us working together. Typically they want to get better at sales, be it the pitch or the strategy. Essentially the doing parts, always with the goal of making more sales and growing the business, however with all that doing always comes a lot of thinking. With almost every client I work with we always seem to arrive at the importance of the being part at some stage as the realisation dawns that what happens outside is a consequence of what's going on inside.
Breaking the continuous stream of thought when thought is not required gives way to a directed focus of attention towards whatever is being engaged with; this is a deepening of attention, a concentration of attention. With that depth a higher quality of outcome may arise, one that isn’t being limited by recycled ideas and thoughts that often prevail in people's minds. By stopping to observe our own thoughts, we might notice how few of them are original, how many of those ideas, thoughts or judgements of a situation or thing are actually recycled and unconsciously applied.
Thoughts and emotions about our daily lives and what they might mean add to the mountain of thoughts about our work that already occupy our waking day. With so much information-processing going on in our heads is it any wonder that concentration is becoming increasingly difficult? So we often seek out momentary distraction, something to takes us away from our thoughts, which we increasingly do by reaching for our smart phones. A quick scan of the inbox, a minute to read the news headlines, a flurry of key strokes responding to the litany of WhatsApp messages from the many groups you’ve been added to. Then back to the task at hand, taking a few more minutes to refocus on what it was you were so easily distracted from.
We are becoming so poor at concentrating that according to a Harvard study, people’s minds wander on average 47% of the time, regardless of what they are doing and the study also revealed that a wandering mind causes people to feel unhappy.
The first step
You’re not going to master the rest of your life in just one day. So relax, and simply seek to master the moment. Just keep doing that every day. Meditation is a proven practice to help us regain control of an overactive mind. However, to many, the idea or the practicality of mediating is a huge challenge, often with plenty of resistance to actually starting.
If that is you, and you're ready to take back control of your over-thinking mind then make a routine activity into your mediation. There will be no shortage of opportunities in your daily habits. Choose something normally undertaken robotically. Brushing your teeth, climbing the stairs, walking to a meeting: in those moments choose to undertake the action as a conscious practice. This is perhaps a silver bullet after all, everyone does something unconsciously; by bringing conscious awareness to it you make the activity into a meditation.
Start by simply focusing on one thing. It might be the breath you take whilst climbing the stairs. Or if you’re in a noisy environment, listen to the sounds that fill your ears, but don't try to identify them, just listen. Pay attention, notice the world around you, placing your attention on one aspect of the moment, the steps you’re taking, the sounds you hear or your breath as you walk. Let it fill your awareness, let that attention without thought be your meditation.
Even if the space between the thoughts last only a few seconds at a time, daily practice will increase your ability to still the mind when you choose to. It's inevitable at first that thoughts will arise during the practice, especially if this is new to you. Don’t worry, and I mean don't worry. No judgement of the thought is required, it's just a thought and you have so many. Just let the thought, whatever it is, float away