One of the most important strengths of a great facilitator is their ability to practice mindfulness.
“Be fully present, detach from outcome,” I was taught. Hard to do when someone’s paying you to get two or three outcomes by the end of the session. The point is that an experienced facilitator will be mindful of the outcomes, know their process but bring out the big guns of mindfulness for more focused results.
In the late 1980’s I started practicing mindfulness to support my role in facilitating groups and teaching meditation and relaxation in mental health services. I’m not suggesting that you need therapy, but I am sharing an observation of how
important mindfulness is becoming in everyday meetings, corporate culture and leadership.
Now is all we have. The past does not exist, neither does future. As a concept future does exist in our minds. Many leaders our obsessed with meeting their targets and miss the wisdom of leading. Like leaders our working minds are bombarded with complex information, social networks, and demanding expectations to keep up with change. Well just remember Grasshopper… “Garbage in, Garbage out.”
Our minds can actually change the brain, that’s a scientific fact. Check out neuroplasticity for yourself. Being mindful helps manage uploads and downloads of everyday work and your personal life. What’s most important is what’s going on within your mind, because this impacts you, your team, your board and your organisation.
Vanilla flavoured, bland work places...anyone want one?
Everyday meetings and workshops often operate either in hyper drive or in lack of drive. For many workplaces they have become stereotypical, vanilla flavoured, bland and template driven agendas and processes. I was reminded recently of an experience I had with a senior manager who I was a subordinate. This person was a great object of intention as I learnt how to mindfully deal with myself in understanding her need to control others. It was very obvious she was suffering and had insecurity and self-doubts. Although these experiences are never pleasant, being mindful provides more informed choice.
I’m sure that I’m not the only person to have ever come across the risk averse leader or organisation paralyzed in fear, hiding behind policy, process and rigid structures. These mindless approaches result in predictable processes,
predictable behaviours, predictable outcomes and predictable dissatisfaction. It’s industrialized leadership for modern world thinking.
Being mindful brings about balanced responding, new choices, some not always easy or popular.
Australian government today is becoming more mindful with massive administrative reforms going on to address mindless systems and processes that are ineffective, inefficient and non-citizen focused. That’s the good news. The reality is that it’s a tough gig for people seeking to make the workplace better or by doing things mindfully or just differently. In groups and teams no matter where there is a cause and effect, our mindful actions may just tick someone off. My experience is that being mindful gives you extreme clarity of purpose and process and raises
awareness of weaknesses in self and others and processes. It also helps to be more non-judgemental.
The good news is there is evolution. It won’t be a revolution but change is coming to an office near you. Our children are educated to be mindfully aware, creative and to question like never before. They are becoming more dynamic, open minded and better prepared with resilient skills to deal with change. They are our future leaders and they will make decisions about our future, so be mindful of that.
Getting back to the present moment. The most highly skilled corporate facilitators today bring a non-text book “mindful capacity,” being fully engaged and being fully present. This does not mean they are over involved or off target, it’s just that they remain attentive to intention and engaged in “what is” and “what isn’t” said. They know how to prioritise information rapidly. Facilitating with mindfulness uses highly developed metacognitive skills accessing, switching and regulating executive brain functioning. This involves using pathways of information processing, problem solving and complex analysis to noticing limbic system responses such as fear, frustration or joy. Again not learnt straight out of a text book, mindfulness skills result in firing and wiring of neural pathways. This takes months, years and decades of practice.
Attention is a limited resource.
This is important for today’s leaders. As leaders and groups see the need to do more things faster, they need to learn how to prioritise their attention and do the most important things really well. Attention is a limited resource. Paying attention to one thing comes at the expense of another. Individuals cannot give their attention to multiple things at once and hope that their brains will function at the same level as it would if focused on just one thing.
Neuroscientists have concluded that multitasking is not possible. Neuroscientific research has proven that mindfulness stimulates the neuroaxis of the brain thus enhancing creative thinking, better analytical decision and problem solving and emotional regulation. So for leaders, it’s time to stop and observe the gap between the thoughts and notice what is really going on. Wisdom starts with noticing, not always doing.
In a faster, better, cheaper world our workplaces run the risk of missing the moment. Mindfulness is being taught and practiced and growing worldwide in the effort to improve personal and professional effectiveness and organisational productivity.
For more information about our corporate and group mindfulness programs take time to contact us.
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