Institute Director Janice Marturano, Author at Institute for Mindful Leadership

3 Steps to Better Decision Making

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Every day we are asked to make decisions. Some are of little consequence while others can literally change our lives and the lives of others. When those important questions arise, we can find it difficult to choose. We might feel paralyzed by an overload of input from others, or we might feel as though there is no clear ‘right’. So, are there ways a mindful leadership practice can help? Let’s look at 3 Steps to Better Decision-Making:  

Stop and Unplug
In a time when we are constantly tempted to divide our attention, it is important to cultivate your ability to focus your mind on the question to be decided. Good decision-making needs us to quiet our busy mind and body so we can open to all the ways of knowing available to us. Removing the external distractions is a good way to start. Turn off the technology and find a quiet place to focus on your breath for a few moments. When your mind becomes distracted, redirect it back to your breath. Feel yourself settling into the moment.

Define the question
It may not be what you think. One way of defining the question is to begin by calling to mind the issue or situation, and asking a more general question first: ‘what is called for now?’ In other words, step back from the specific question to one that is a little broader or more general. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to get to the precise answer to a narrower question. The smaller answer may be just that…small, rather than creative or breakthrough or compassionate.

Reflect
Once you begin to feel your body and mind settle into the present moment and you have defined the question, it is time for the final step-reflection. This is not analysis, or even thinking. It is approaching the question with open curiosity. Allow there to be some spaciousness around the question so the answer or answers can arise, generated by your inner wisdom. No need to go searching, the answer(s) will come to you. This decision-making reflection is also an opportunity for you to practice patience. Sometimes it may take a few dedicated reflections with your question to discover the answer. You already have everything you need to make those important decisions and the more you practice with this approach, the more confidence you will gain in your capacity to choose.

The Lost Art of Conversation – 5 Steps to Mindful Communications

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Last week we had an unusually warm winter day and I decided to go out and enjoy the lunch hour at a favorite local restaurant. As I walked toward the door, I was reminded of the power our senses have over our experiences. Smells of spices wafted through the air and made my stomach gurgle long before I crossed the threshold. I was ushered to a table by the head of the family that has owned the place for generations. It all felt welcoming and warm…until new guests arrived at the next table.

The new guests were a well-dressed mother and daughter, the child was about 9 years old, and clearly looked happy to be at the restaurant. As they sat down and were handed the menus, the girl started chatting about her choices for lunch while the parent immediately pulled out her phone and began to text. At some point, the girl stopped talking and reached in her backpack for her own phone. They never put them down again until the food arrived, and even then, would occasionally pick them up between bites.

This is not an unusual situation these days, but it left me feeling sad. The connection that could have been made that day was lost and the modeled behavior gave preference to texts over family. Texts do not substitute for human connection. Communication is multi-faceted, and mere letters on a screen do not convey warmth, sorrow, joy, the pure connection felt from a human being’s presence. The art of conversation is not a ‘nice to have’, it is critically important to our growth as human beings.
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Working with Change

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I was awakened very early this morning by a distinct chill in the air. Fall’s cooler temperatures had tapped me on the shoulder. Another reminder of the fact that everything changes, I thought, as I sleepily reached for another blanket. Summer had slipped away. It was time to meet a new season.

Of course, it is easy to see and feel the season’s changes. If we live in a climate with deciduous trees, for example, we notice the green leaves give way to beautiful colors, and then we get out the rakes! And we know that different seasons require us to meet them in ways that are unique to that time of the year. As fall approaches, we find the sweatshirts and sweaters, and we put away the shorts and flipflops.

We have come to expect these changes, and we prepare to meet them as they unfold. Read More

Leadership Excellence: Ride the Wave

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Leadership shortcuts don’t end well…for you or for those around you.

In my work here at the Institute, I am regularly engaging in conversations with successful professionals at every level of an organization. Although each person has a unique set of circumstances, there are common threads that show up time and time again. One of those threads is a sense of being overwhelmed, juggling the demands of work and home, and trying to find time for self-care. There simply isn’t enough time or space in the day. And so, the responsibilities spill over- into the night, throughout the weekend, and even your vacation (if you take one). Sound familiar?

With our list of to-dos’ ever increasing, it is no wonder that we are constantly looking for shortcuts. We find ourselves multitasking, skipping or working through meals, lessening sleep and being connected to our laptop and our phones 24/7. Of course, none of these ‘shortcuts’ work in the long term, and none are sustainable over the long haul. And as leaders programmed to “get it done”, sometimes this is the best we can do at the time, and it feels a little better in the short term to ‘check the box’.

There is, however, no shortcut to developing leadership excellence. Read More