As we enter this season of holidays, it is easy to be carried away with trappings and commercialization and, in the process, lose the deep historical, religious or heart-centered meaning of this time of year. Our already busy calendars just get busier as our ‘to-do’ lists grow longer and longer. There is food to prepare, presents to buy, and parties to attend.
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Our journey to develop the qualities of mindful leadership calls us to be present in this moment, to be ‘still in the midst of activity’. Or, more accurately in today’s world, in the midst of the chaos that often typifies our lives. As we begin to cultivate a practice to develop the qualities of mindful leadership, we begin to recognize the folly of believing that if we could just move faster, we would eventually catch up.
All too often, we as leaders lose our way. Rather than face into what is most important, we allow ourselves to get pulled into the surrounding chaos or distracted by the ’emergency of the day’ while the truly important matters are left unattended.
Last week, I had the privilege of being a part of a unique, all day gathering at the Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Power and Money. In many different ways, the panelists and the attendees spoke about the struggles of leading and living in today’s 24/7 culture. It felt to me as though there was a consistent theme of ‘something is missing in my life’ and, more importantly, ‘is there any way to find it?’
What is a ‘mindful leader’? A mindful leader is someone who embodies leadership presence by cultivating focus, clarity, creativity and compassion in the service of others. If we look more deeply into this definition, we will notice that these four innate abilities are fundamentals of leadership excellence. And yet, even though these abilities are innate, we often fall short of our potential to embody leadership presence because we live in a world that surrounds us with unlimited distractions.