| 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.
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.
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.