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…
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.
What are the benefits of participating in one of the Institute’s five day retreats? What can I expect? What will I take away? These are some of the many questions we receive from leaders around the world before they take the next step and register for a retreat. This month we thought we’d ask one of our previous participants to weigh in on the experience.
We met Collyn Iblings at the 1440 Retreat Center in California. Collyn participated in our five day Cultivating Leadership Presence through Mindfulness Retreat (and we’re proud to say has joined us for other offerings since that first experience!). We asked her a few questions about the experience:
- Why did you feel this retreat would help with some of the biggest challenges of living the life of a leader?
I have been in manager roles for a number of years and had an interest in moving away from “managing” and towards “leading.”. I felt that the curriculum, message and method would give me the practices and applications necessary to cultivate my development as a leader in our organization.
- Did the five-day curriculum allow you enough time to get comfortable with the practice and understand how to apply it in real life?
The space allowed me to dive deeper into the emotions that had a strangle hold on me – fear, lack of self-worth, anger, hurt, resentment. Instead, and with the support and encouragement of the retreat instructors and the participants, I learned the courage to begin addressing them.
- What did you learn about yourself and how would you apply that in your work?
Prior to the retreat, managing people was all about my ego and fear of losing something, anything, everything. After the retreat, leading is about finding compassion for myself and others and supporting others to help accomplish personal, professional and corporate goals.
- How has your mindful leadership practice influenced your approach to your work? Your life?
Mindful leadership training has supported my leadership and my life, offering me tools and practices that strengthen my trust in myself and others, and enhance my ability to live and lead in a way that is true to my authentic self.
- Would you consider this retreat again? What would you most look forward to?
Yes. I have already taken other Institute offerings and am looking forward to another CLP in the future.
- What surprised you?
So many things! But here’s two things- one about myself and one bigger picture. For myself, I had lost sight of the healing properties of nature and how much I enjoy the elements – fire, water, trees, earth…But the diverse community of leaders at the retreat also reminded me that leaders across the world are very different, and yet we share many things between us.
Are you ready to begin your mindful leadership journey? Join us for our upcoming Cultivating Leadership Presence through Mindfulness Retreat this May 1-5, 2019, at the Menla Mountain Retreat Center in New York. Space is limited- LEARN MORE.
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.
As the New Year approaches, we are happy to update the newsletter community on our shared success in launching the Institute’s mindful leadership trainings in China.
Over the course of 2018, our mindful leadership offerings included the groundbreaking Finding the Space to Lead workshop, which has been delivered to individuals and organizations in various fields including education, justice, finance, and consulting. The workshop was welcomed with much interest and positive feedback. Read More