The old adage “Keep calm and carry on” used in the United Kingdom during World War Two is now underpinned by real scientific research that supports the ideas behind mindfulness and meditation.
These confirm that meditation and thoughtful reflection on a regular basis does change the way your brain works.
Harvard Business Review now reports neuroscience evidence on physical changes to the brains of those practising meditation and mindfulness.
The next big thing?
While mindfulness is now sweeping the corporate world as the “next big thing”, its foundation is not new, but lies in the thousands of years of study and practice of meditation and other reflective techniques across the world.
My visits to countries around the world, where a significant proportion of the population have been trained in these techniques through religious or other activity, e.g. Myanmar, confirm to me that these societies have a level of calmness, reflection and awareness of the impact of their actions on others.
A complementary tool
Mindfulness in the corporate world is not a silver bullet as some seem to make it out, but it is a powerful additional tool to help both employees and leaders take a different and more insightful perspective on what is happening around them, and how to respond to it.
This links to the “taking a step back” and “helicopter vision” that we often refer to and which the best leaders have been using naturally for years.
Mindfulness, and indeed elements of meditation, provide us with a tool to help other leaders who may not naturally have this skill to develop it effectively.
By itself, it is not going to make you a great leader without other key elements such as the ability to engage others, to be effective, ethical and entrepreneurial, but it helps improve the impact of those abilities by making more thoughtful and better decisions.
The increasing body of evidence about the positive effects of mindfulness and meditation now means that it can no longer be dismissed by some as “hippy rubbish”.
The other criticism that it is too complicated and time consuming for the “real world” is also now disproved as positive results can come from short but regular practice.
In the end, we all know that taking a step back, having time to reflect and thinking of the wider implications or big picture does help us make better decisions.
Meditation and mindfulness help us do that even more effectively when the situation requires it.
So even if you don’t fully embrace mindfulness, at least take a little time out more regularly to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and reflect on what’s really important or the best thing to do in a situation for everyone (not just yourself) and for long-term benefit (not just a short-term fix).
Chris Roebuck (www.chrisroebuck.co) is a senior faculty at Leaderonomics and a visiting professor of transformational leadership at Cass Business School in London. He is a sought-after advisor and the developer of Mach 2 leadership – the combination of entrepreneurial, engaging, ethical and effective leadership. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Roebuck. To engage Chris for organisational work in your organisation, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Brain Bulletin articles, click here.
Reposted with permission on Leaderonomics.com