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“Mindfulness” seems to be the new buzzword of the day, and for good reason. It could be key to your success. Communities are promoting classes in mindfulness, and they claim all kinds of benefits as a result of its practice. Time Magazine made it the topic of their cover in the summer of 2014, and it was so popular that it’s recently made a comeback on store shelves. Mindfulness is a concept that’s catching on, and not a moment too soon. So, what exactly is it?

Mindfulness is, essentially, being aware. Some call it a type of meditation. It is the deliberate focus of one’s energy on the present moment and nothing else. It can be useful as a time of reflection, slowing pace, redirecting our efforts, or simply taking a mental pause from the busy distractions of life. Science is showing that it has tremendous benefits that range from physical healing to a potential cure for depression. It is also said to increase our brain function in immeasurable ways.

Why is mindfulness gaining traction in in the U.S? There are probably many reasons, but some believe it is catching on because so many Americans are unbelievably busy. Most people are constantly going and going, without thought or consideration of where exactly their direction is leading them. They often spin in circles, focus ever shifting, while never really gaining any traction or moving forward. Sound familiar?

Our busyness is sabotaging our clarity and long term focus, and ultimately our potential to achieve at the highest level. People are now realizing it.

Take for example, something as simple as an introduction. Have you ever considered how much time you spend being someplace other than where you are? Just the other day a woman I met at a meeting said to me, “I know I just met you, but forgive me. What is your name again, please?” I knew exactly what had happened to her because I’ve allowed it to happen to me, too. She wasn’t really present to the moment when my name was spoken. It wasn’t that she didn’t remember. She never heard my name in the first place.  Has that ever happened to you?

How often do you stop the spin cycle of life, evaluate where you are, give your mind a rest, and re set your compass? Furthermore, what’s to gain from doing so (aside from actually hearing someone’s name when they are introduced to you)?

One of the critical and sorely understated benefits of the practice of mindfulness is mastery over our own emotions. It should go without saying that leaders (I define a leader as anyone who wishes to influence others) must have the ability to manage their mind. We cannot forget that our outer world is simply a reflection of our inner world. So, without this essential skill, we choose to be simply slaves to primal instinct or habits that do not serve us. Emotions are a valid and real part of the human experience, but they’re unpredictable and inconsistent. Furthermore, they are not truth. We can feel something very strongly, but that feeling does not predictably represent or reflect any sort of truth. Nobody will ever follow a leader who is as erratic as their emotions.

A leader must be stable and consistent. Stability and consistency are not inborn personality traits. They are learned disciplined habits that require intentional practice and refinement. How do we acquire these skills and traits? By reflection, accountability, clarity, focus, practice, and discipline. Consequently, these are all things that mindfulness is said to help with.

Business, leadership, entrepreneurship, and their accompanying responsibilities require a lot of work. They take deliberate clarity, focus, concentration, and sometimes real grit. If you are one of those busy Americans, why not choose mindfulness, essential for you to develop your full potential.

Be your own best coach. Spend time in personal reflection. Ask yourself the following questions:

1) How often do I give myself a mental break to refocus?

2) What benefits could I gain from mindfulness, or a similar type of intentional mental relaxation and focus?

3) What is my current struggle with regards to mastering my emotions?

4) If I could enhance my awareness of my emotions and exercise more control of how I express them, what impact could that have on my ability to influence?

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