Mindfulness. Such a beautiful word. Who doesn’t want to be more mindful?
Yet what does that mean exactly?
I’m going to resist the urge to look it up. Fact is, I’m not that curious, for I don’t want to get distracted (which I’m thinking would be less than mindful). I am very content to get pretty literal with this one: Mindful has got to be ‘fullness of mind.’
We can feel blissful contentment when we reach mindfulness. However ‘fullness of mind’ is something you can only get to if your mind is behaving in the way it serves you best. It is the fullness of YOUR mind. We want the bliss of contentment and satisfaction with our thinking, and not a fullness to bursting that represents overwhelm.
So here’s the question of the day:
As a manager seeking more practice in self-leadership, how do you get your mind to behave?
I have three suggestions, but this is one of those thinking-out-loud postings for me, and I’d love to have you weigh in: You may want to look away for a few moments and try to answer the question for yourself before reading more… I’ll wait. How do you get your mind to behave? What instantly comes to mind for you?
Ready to compare notes with me?
1. Beat Procrastination: Eliminate Distraction
Turning an unconditional regard on my own habits, beating procrastination would probably top my list. I know that I have to stop forsaking long-term goals in favor of short-term desires, replacing self-indulgence with self-discipline. I mentioned the sneaky culprit earlier: Distraction. Where my attention goes, I go. So I suspect the more distraction I eliminate, the better I will get at overcoming procrastination. Logical sure, but easier said than done.
Outsmarting temptation is a biggie here. I know a manager who calls this “pulling a Ulysses.” Remember how Ulysses tied himself to the mast of his ship to resist the seduction of the Sirens’ song? He was limiting his ability to behave badly later. A common example these days: Don’t go shopping if you want to save money. Another: Stay offline with all social media tabs closed when you shouldn’t be socializing.
How do YOU beat procrastination?
2. Get More Impatient: Harness Discontent
Most of us need more patience in our relationships with other people ”“ I’ll give you that. However I really think we need more impatience when it comes to the work that we individually do: Too much patience gets to be another way we procrastinate. We say we’re “still learning” or we’re “trying to be more open-minded,” when we’re really stalling, stuck in the mental gymnastics of not making a decision fast enough.
When I recognize that my mind begins to rant, I’m not as quick with stifling the discontent now. I ask myself why the rant (other people or me?) and then why not (why not be impatient?) Absolutely no coulda, shoulda, woulda allowed. Choose. Be decisive. Git ‘er done and move on.
Do you see the value of allowing more impatience into your thinking?
3. Turn Everything Into a Story
This is admittedly a new approach for me, one I am still testing. In my case this is also a way for me to channel that “still learning” affliction I know I do have into something productive and fascinating so I will be more self-motivated by some process.
This started with my study of Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind: I am fully aware that I’m a left-brainer by nature, and I am working on cultivating my right braininess. Pink says that the aptitude of Story is “context enriched by emotion. Story exists where high concept and high touch intersect.” To me, that means “Head, meet gut instinct: I want you two to get along.”
The woo-woo stuff aside (which is good, trust me. I recommend the book) I look at Story from the reality of all situations having a “once upon a time,” a grand adventure, and a “happily ever after.” The well-behaved mind will start something, execute it, and most important, finish it. (That was pretty left-brained logical, wasn’t it.) I also have that good impatience with stories: I want to get to the end, so it begs the grand finale and gets the glorious finish to happen sooner versus later (no thinly disguised procrastination).
Does that make sense to you?
Still learning this one, and all open-minded contrarians are welcomed to chime in!
So your turn now:
How do you think we managers can cultivate a well-behaved mind?
Let’s talk story; I’d love to hear from you.
My mana‘o [The Backstory of this posting]
Each Tuesday I write a leadership posting for Say “Alaka‘i” at The Honolulu Advertiser. The edition here on Talking Story is revised with internally directed links, and I can take a few more editorial liberties. What will not change? That we talk story!