The room became completely silent. Just for a few moments, seconds even. And yet within that silence was a deep calm, magnified even because of the number of people in the room. The deep calm felt nourishing and rich and resourceful.
‘Whaaaaat??’ I hear you cry ‘You think this has something to do with management??’ ‘When we have targets to meet, customers to satisfy, staff to lead – and all sorts of other challenges every day!’
Yes I do. It is well known that human beings live in a ‘Performance Paradox’ – this has been most brilliantly articulated by Tony Schwartz amongst others. Whilst a stretch for the imagination against what seems to be the law of Physics, human beings can often achieve more by doing less. It is the antithesis of the use of machines. Many studies show that rather than achieving more by doing longer hours (like a machine would), a human being achieves more by doing less and responding to the rhythmic needs of their human systems.
In other words if a human being becomes very busy and overloaded, their optimal levels of performance start to diminish. And over time this gets worse. You may notice that a relentlessly ‘busy’ person often starts to use 50 words to explain something where 10 will do. They may do several things at once and yet this makes each single task take longer or is done less well. A very calm person may be incisive and cut through the weeds, bringing effectiveness to everything they do.
It doesn’t stop there. The human stress response which is activated by lots of ‘doing’, and by multiple ‘doing’ is felt in other human ways – ones that are physical and emotional as well as mental. Poor sleep ensues for example which adds to the loop of poor concentration, fragmented thoughts and stirred up emotions.
In a knowledge based economy where your thoughts and intellect is what adds the value to your work then the performance of your brain and your whole human system is what will give your best performance. And this is a beautiful place to be. The state of being relaxed whilst alert is an optimal operating level for a human being – and it feels good! It is often experienced as a state of ‘flow’ which is a great immersion in a task – you may even call it part of ‘employee engagement’ and, because it feels so good and achieves such great things, once you have experienced this, you may want it again and again! This is great because achieving a state of ‘flow’ regularly programmes this into your brain and it becomes easier and easier to access.
‘Mindfulness’ and ‘Mindful Leadership’ are proving to be the antidote to 21st Century living for many people who have been experiencing the negative effects of ‘Bigger, Faster, Stronger’ and want to introduce greater depth, quality and intelligence into their work in a way that is much more sustainable over protracted lengths of time.
This can be learnt. If learnt by one person it positively impacts those around them just as a stressed person negatively impacts those around them. It is a 21st century set of skills and experiences drawn from ancient wisdoms of 3000 years old.
You can learn it. You, your team and your employer can all benefit. You may find that as you do – your mind and body breathes a sigh of relief…..
And then, watch this space….
Anne Parker, Anne Parker Ltd:
About Anne: Anne is a highly experienced Management Development Facilitator and coach who draws from her own mindful practices and disciplines to deliver her sessions
Interested in finding out more? Leeds Metropolitan University are running an 8 week course with Anne on Mindful Management starting 19th February 2014 (evenings 6-8:30pm)
Further info and booking details here