Some time ago, I was reading an interview with James Hackett, the CEO of Steelcase. When he was asked about his most memorable leadership lessons, he spoke of the importance of becoming a leader that was not ‘prepackaged’. In the course of his work, he met many CEOs and he noticed that the ones who were truly impactful, truly leaders in every sense of the word, were those who were not ‘prepackaged’. The great leaders were those who exhibited a ‘sense of peace, this self-awareness, that says, ‘I understand who I am’.
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After the juicy pleasure of my angry outburst subsided a bit, the more evolved part of my brain came back online and noticed I’d just done it again. Fallen into the trap of complaining about “them” in front of my leadership team. And in the very process of presumably exercising the privilege of “the boss” to be angry and demanding, paradoxically diminished my own standing as a leader with a group of people it’s essential I actually, you know, lead.
Control is one of humankind’s greatest illusions. Let’s face it—even with all the information available and expansive educational preparation—unexpected events often interfere with our plans and our best efforts to control an outcome or an event (and even ourselves!). And what happens to us, to those around us, and to the teams and organizations we lead when things get disrupted?
Mindfulness meditation practice uses time and space to cultivate connection. When we take the time to check in with our inner state, we learn something. Churning after the latest news report or tweet, we may be so caught up in reaction that we can’t discriminate what has actually happened from what we think and feel about it. Mindfulness, even if it’s just attending to a few breaths, can create the space that brings us a more nuanced perspective on events.