“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” – Ryunosuke Satoro
There is an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous attitude in the United States these days. It manifests itself in politics, but lately, I have seen it bleed into other areas of society, including business.
I am talking about people’s inability to listen to other opinions and work together to solve an issue. This sort of behavior can be destructive when running a company or organization, but leaders can overcome its consequences for both themselves and their employees.
When you lead an organization or your own business, you are always in the position of working out the best way to resolve an issue, whether it is with your partners, staff, vendors, or customers. But when you and the people you work with do not listen to each other, an active solution is impossible. Imagine being a leader who is frustrated with his staff members. You’re putting in 200%, and you’re exhausted.
Some questions you should ask yourself are:
- Are you communicating your message without actively listening to your team?
- Are you aware of your team’s needs and wants?
- Are you working so hard because you are doing tasks that might be the responsibilities of your staff members?
- Are you very attentive? Do you provide detailed information and follow up with your employees frequently to ensure that everything goes perfectly?
While it is important to be attentive, you also don’t want your staff to feel micromanaged. This could create a lack of trust as well as a divide between you and your employees, which you cannot afford to happen. So what are you to do?
How Mindfulness Eliminates Divisiveness
In coaching others, writing books, and conducting my various enterprises, the one quality I advocate at all times is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a conscious effort to know yourself. By definition, it is a conscious choice of living in the present, guided by value-based decisions and non-judgments. It also means living with grace. As we focus on the dance of the present, grace weaves its way into day-to-day activities and relationships.
When you understand and consistently strive to apply mindfulness to every aspect of your work, you are creating an environment where you negate that stubborn attitude that seems to pervade society.
Successful leaders are mindful by nature because they observe others without judgment. You are aware of the needs, values, and wants of others. You strategize and deliver under pressure while being thoughtful of everyone, including yourself, your team and your customers. You start to see where you might be needlessly hurting another’s feelings or discounting their opinions when they might know more than you do on a subject of discussion.
Being mindful enables you to reach out and bring others together to achieve a common goal. When people realize they can throw out ideas without fear of judgment, the synergy of your group increases by extraordinary amounts.
Mindfulness also allows you to be self-aware without judgment. You are accepting of your own strengths and limitations and open to discovering your blind spots and emotional hindrances. You can turn them into assets driven by values and support of friends and mentors. Mindfulness equips you with the desire of growth allowing you to learn from your life experiences — failures and successes alike — while retaining humility. If you are not mindful of your strengths and shortcomings, you can neither leverage your strengths nor get things done in areas where you are deficient.
As a leader, when you practice bringing mindfulness to all areas of your work, you pass down this knowledge to others. Let’s say you are a CEO. Even if you do not formally train and talk about mindfulness, your example will work wonders on all those you come into contact with during the day. While divisiveness seems to be growing into a tsunami in today’s culture, I believe human nature craves peace and the ability to work through problems or conflicts in a calm, sane manner. Mindfulness will bring this to your workplace or organization, and others will want to emulate how you do things.
By exercising mindfulness, leadership recognizes the humanity that is part of all of us. It stops reducing to process and metrics. When you realize the human potential in people you work with or that work for you, a business leader can tap into that knowledge and energy everyone has. Many times, it only takes one person to release the talent that is in another. When you conduct yourself with a spirit of mindfulness, you are bringing out the best in you and others, while fostering an environment of working together.
Learn how to weave mindfulness into everything you do. When you have somebody ask you why your company operates smoothly, take it as a teachable moment and let them know about mindfulness. It is an easy way of applying oneself that will reduce conflict and promote success in work and life.
A version of this article first appeared on Forbes.
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