In these difficult times, we want to support you in whatever way we can. Please click here for some resources.

Institute for Mindful Leadership, Author at Institute for Mindful Leadership

Do You Know How To Set Boundaries? A Mindfulness Approach

by | Article

Do You Know How To Set Boundaries? A Mindfulness Approach

If it was nearly impossible to distinguish work time from personal time before the pandemic, now it truly seems like an unattainable dream. The demands of working from home, teaching your children, caring for elder parents, and attempting to stay virtually connected with friends can make the day seem like a blur of computer screens and smartphone notifications. Your body and mind begin to feel under siege and, without setting some boundaries, you will feel exhausted and overwhelmed.

This simple mindfulness approach to boundaries comes in two forms:

1. Transitions between segments in your work schedule:

Look for the natural breaks in your scheduled day and create an intentional boundary. Boundaries require intentional, disciplined choices. For example, your 10 am conference ends at 11 am. When you leave that meeting, take a few minutes to stand and stretch at your desk. Take a few deep breaths and exhale with a sigh each time. Invite your mind to let go of the interactions in that meeting and pay attention to how your body feels as you stand up and stretch. These few minutes belong to you. Use them to care for yourself and re-center your mind and body so it is ready for the next segment of your day.

A second example involves making the choice to really nourish yourself during the day. When it is time to have lunch, it is also time to transition away from work. Close the computer, leave your phone on your desk and mindfully walk to the kitchen. Feel your feet on the floor of the hallway and redirect your attention to those steps every time your mind begins to pull you back to work. If you are home with other family members, invite them to join you as you prepare lunch and connect with one another over a meal.

These short breaks are important ways to help you cultivate resiliency in a hectic schedules. Look for the ones that support you and make a conscious choice to integrate them into your schedule.

2.Transitions between tech time and no tech time

Although it may seem strange to even think about it, your smartphone and laptop have off switches. Choose to use them. At some point in your day, at least 2 hours before bed, and ideally more, turn them all off. And keep them out of your bedroom. If you have been relying on them to wake you up in the morning, consider investing in an alarm clock. Having tech right next your head while you are trying to sleep often interferes with deep, restorative sleep because a part of your brain is waiting for it to buzz.
You take great care to keep the technology recharged. Do the same for yourself by disconnecting from technology for set periods every day. This choice to leave tech behind for a while will allow you to connect to yourself, family and friends. Trying to authentically connect with one eye on a screen is disrespectful and guaranteed to be noticed by others. Think about it, when you are speaking with someone and they keep glancing at their phones, how does it make you feel?

Create a ‘no tech zone’ for your house, and set aside ‘no tech hours’ for your entire family. You may soon find that tech connections are no substitute for human connections.

Do You Really Feel Grateful, Or Is It All In Your Head? A Mindfulness Look

by | Article

When November rolls around, I have noticed that everyone seems to be talking about gratitude. We teach our children to “count their blessings,” and we remind ourselves that there is always something to be grateful for, even in the midst of challenging times. But do you really feel grateful? Or has it become just words in your head, rather than powerful feelings in your heart? And is saying you are grateful good enough if the gratitude doesn’t come from the heart?

Perhaps it would help to understand what gratitude really is. Gratitude does not come as a response to something you have been given or earned. That is “being thankful.” Gratitude is a much deeper way of living that comes from an awareness of the millions of moments and people and circumstances that have come together for you to simply be here, right now, alive in this moment. Stop and consider this for a minute. Look back at this last year and recall a memorable moment. If just one event was slightly different, or one person made a different decision, or one storm had a different trajectory, or one promotion had not occurred, how would that moment have changed?

And, of course, you can go back even further. What if one ancestor made a different choice, or was received by their new country in a different way? Or what if an illness or injury occurred?

It really is quite an amazing miracle that we are who we are, where we are, and doing what we are. Gratitude is the deep feeling we get when we acknowledge that things are pretty amazing, and in response, we choose to meet our life with an open-heartedness that comes from that recognition.

Of course, when life is overly busy and distractions abound, we can slip into living on autopilot, not recognizing these moments, and therefore, missing the powerful affects of true gratitude. We give lip-service to being grateful, but those words come from the head, not the heart, and they are rarely felt. If you want to bring the power of heartfelt gratitude into your way of living, try this simple practice:

Mindfulness Gratitude Practice:

  1. Choose a time each day to sit quietly and write down 3 things for which you are grateful. Whatever you notice that day is fine. There is only one rule-you cannot repeat anything. Keep looking…how many days/months can you keep this up?
  2. Pay close attention to your body sensations while you are writing. What are you noticing? Warmth, lightness, tingling, tears, etc.
  3. After you have been practicing gratitude for a few weeks, look for an opportunity to express your gratitude to someone else. Did you notice anything different about feelings of the experience?

As this season begins to kick into high gear with all of its distractions and busyness, this practice can help you put it all in perspective. The warm, powerful feelings of authentic gratitude can ground us in the midst of the bright lights, and the superficial tugs on our time. We begin to more readily recognize how grateful we are simply to be here right now.

4 Mindfulness Fundamentals To Transform Your Leadership: Are You A Compassionate Leader?

by | Article

This is Part 2 of the 4 Fundamentals to Transform Your Leadership series. Part 1-First, See Past Your Filters explored the importance of cultivating Clarity. This blog will explore the role of compassion.
Compassion may not be the first leadership characteristic that comes to mind when you think of everyday leadership performance, but when you think of examples of leadership excellence, it may very well be the one that rises to the top. Why is that? What does compassion have to do with great leadership?
Let’s take a step back and define “compassion.” Compassion arises when there is a deep understanding of the challenges being faced by others, and with that deep understanding comes a pull toward an act of kindness.

Embodying compassion in your development of mindful leadership often results in an ability for you to break out of the ordinary and lead in a way that is a win for the organization, a win for employees and a win for the “big picture.” Compassionate leadership is a form of inspirational leadership, and it can show up in many ways. It might arise as an innovative approach that finds a way to meet business objectives and simultaneously address a need in the community. It might arise in the form of a willingness to take a courageous stand to develop new work environments that support the needs of employees while still “getting the job done.” It might arise as an innovative idea that sparks business success and arises from a new and deeper understanding of a cultural or racial difference. There really is no limit on the number of places and times that you can bring compassion to a situation.
But, if you are having some doubts about where you might bring compassion into your leadership, you may want to start with an experiment in self-compassion. Self-compassion is often the most difficult kind of compassion for leaders to embody, but it is the best place to start learning about compassionate leadership.

Let’s begin by removing some of the misunderstandings about compassion. First, compassion is not a ‘soft skill’. In fact, compassion very often requires great courage and strength. Second, self-compassion is not “selfish.” For the best leaders, this misunderstanding emanates from a desire to take care of others. And that is a laudable way of being. We do want leaders who are not self-centered and egotistical. Self-care and self-compassion are not selfish acts, nor are they barriers to leadership excellence. They are the foundations of great leaders. In the process of dropping in on ourselves to observe what challenges are here, and how they might be alleviated, we learn a great deal about humanity in general. And when we have the courage to experiment with offering ourselves an act of kindness, we experience for ourselves the powerful, transformative impact of compassion.

See for yourself: Take a few minutes to sit quietly and check in with your body. Allow yourself to be open and curious about what you are noticing. What sensations are here to be noticed? Tightness in your jaw, headache, overall tiredness, flutters in your stomach, queasiness…what do you feel? Then ask yourself, “What else do I know about this feeling?” There is no need to begin a lengthy investigation, just see what arises as you sit quietly with this question.

Be patient and allow yourself a few minutes to see what arises. Try not to edit what arises, just stay open to it. Now, what is the act of kindness you are pulled toward to be self-compassionate? Some common answers include: “I need to say ‘no’ sometimes,” “I need to go to bed earlier,” “I would like to make food choices that nourish my body,” “I need to learn to pay less attention to the critical voice in my head,” and “I need to make time to connect more with people I care about and disconnect from my phone.”

Whatever arises for you, plan to take one small step toward making a change. There is no need to try to make drastic changes. What is one small step you want to take, one small change? What do you notice? Try again or modify your step and then try again. As with all the mindful leadership fundamentals we are exploring (focus, clarity, creativity and compassion), you will want to be patient with yourself. Self-compassion is new for many of us and it will take some time to make these changes a regular part of your life. But, aren’t you worth it?

Next time we will explore the role of Creativity and the ways that you can cultivate your ability to be more innovative. See you then!Let’s begin by removing some of the misunderstandings about compassion. First, compassion is not a ‘soft skill’. In fact, compassion very often requires great courage and strength. Second, self-compassion is not “selfish.” For the best leaders, this misunderstanding emanates from a desire to take care of others. And that is a laudable way of being. We do want leaders who are not self-centered and egotistical. Self-care and self-compassion are not selfish acts, nor are they barriers to leadership excellence. They are the foundations of great leaders. In the process of dropping in on ourselves to observe what challenges are here, and how they might be alleviated, we learn a great deal about humanity in general. And when we have the courage to experiment with offering ourselves an act of kindness, we experience for ourselves the powerful, transformative impact of compassion.

See for yourself: Take a few minutes to sit quietly and check in with your body. Allow yourself to be open and curious about what you are noticing. What sensations are here to be noticed? Tightness in your jaw, headache, overall tiredness, flutters in your stomach, queasiness…what do you feel? Then ask yourself, “What else do I know about this feeling?” There is no need to begin a lengthy investigation, just see what arises as you sit quietly with this question.

Be patient and allow yourself a few minutes to see what arises. Try not to edit what arises, just stay open to it. Now, what is the act of kindness you are pulled toward to be self-compassionate? Some common answers include: “I need to say ‘no’ sometimes,” “I need to go to bed earlier,” “I would like to make food choices that nourish my body,” “I need to learn to pay less attention to the critical voice in my head,” and “I need to make time to connect more with people I care about and disconnect from my phone.”

Whatever arises for you, plan to take one small step toward making a change. There is no need to try to make drastic changes. What is one small step you want to take, one small change? What do you notice? Try again or modify your step and then try again. As with all the mindful leadership fundamentals we are exploring (focus, clarity, creativity and compassion), you will want to be patient with yourself. Self-compassion is new for many of us and it will take some time to make these changes a regular part of your life. But, aren’t you worth it?

This was part two of a four part series. Links to the other blogs can be found below.

Part 1: See Past Your Filters

Part 2: Are You a Compassionate Leader?

Part 3: Training Your Mind’s Ability to be Creative

Part 4: The Incredible Myth of Multitasking

CNBC Video: Mindfulness for Type A’s: Janice Marturano shares the solution at CNBC’s work summit

by | Article

Long days. Difficult conversations. Deadlines. Pressure to perform amidst an ever growing number of distractions. These are just some of the challenges facing executives and employees at companies big and small. The result? Stress, anxiety, and lack of focus, to name a few. Enter Janice Marturano, a former General Mills executive shares how she created a solution…

Read More

“4 ways to boost your focus and brainpower at work” by CNBC

by | Article

Like most busy professionals, Janice Marturano was working long hours, putting out fires and dealing with nonstop demands not only inside the office but outside as well. Vice president of public responsibility and deputy general counsel at General Mills, the then 43-year-old was married with school-age children, president of the board for a large nonprofit and the daughter of aging parents.

“I was a 21st-century juggler,” she said at CNBC’s @ Work Talent + HR Summit on Tuesday in New York City.

In 2000 Marturano received a call from her CEO asking her to lead a team of people to get a multibillion-dollar deal approved by the FTC, she said. The deal, intended to take six months, dragged on for 18. “The team and I were working seven-day weeks, and I sent my family away twice without me. Six months in, my mother passed away. I had no time to grieve. I do what busy professionals do; we play hurt, push it away. Six months after that, my dad also passed away. The deal was over, but I was profoundly aware that I had lost something.”

At the advice of a physician friend, she decided to take some time off from work to attend an intensive retreat for executives in Arizona called the Power of Mindfulness.

Just what is mindfulness? It is the art of being fully present and aware of where we are and what we’re doing, without reacting or being overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Something most people in this 24/7/365 world find impossible to do.

Read More at the CNBC website