Sitting down with the intention of stilling one’s mind and body is no longer the sole province of hippies and Eastern medicine aficionados, says leadership expert Dr. Stephen Josephs.
Nike, 50 Cent and the Marine Corps all embrace the benefits of mindfulness meditation, he says.
“The benefits of mindfulness meditation do not exist in a vacuum; mindfulness meditation not only lowers your blood pressure, it also offers a host of other positives, including increasing business acumen,” says Josephs, who has coached executives for more than 30 years and recently authored the new book, “Dragons at Work,” (www.DragonsAtWork.com).
“It sharpens your intuitive business sense. By relaxing your body, breathing evenly, and paying attention to the present moment, you notice things you might otherwise miss. Paying exquisite attention is the key to staying real, and daily meditation builds that capacity.”
The benefits of a calm and focused mind are ubiquitous; Josephs offers tips for business leaders.
• If you’re faced with what looks like an enticing opportunity, don’t just do something. Sit there. Breathe quietly and let the fear and greed subside. The easiest way to fool yourself in a deal, negotiation or transaction is to let your thinking stray from what’s happening and get seduced by a dream. It could be the dream your counterpart is spinning for you or simply the dream of results, good or bad. Like most people, you have probably experienced moments when you knew something – a business relationship, an investment – was going south, but you hesitated to act because you didn’t have facts to support your intuition. Sometimes, your intuition knows something that your logical mind does not.
• Pay attention to what your body is telling you; you may be expressing signals that your logical mind is slow to notice. In a psychological study titled “The Iowa Gambling Task,” researchers gave subjects the task of making the most money possible by choosing cards from four decks. Unbeknownst to the subjects, the decks were stacked. Some were “good decks” (producing winners more of the time) and some were “bad decks,” (producing losers). After about 40 to 50 picks, most subjects caught on to which decks produced winners and losers. Their bodies knew something that their rational minds had missed. After about 10 picks they began to produce physiological symptoms of stress when their hands reached for the bad decks. If you’re not paying attention to those subtle signals, your innate wisdom is inaccessible.
• Meditation develops emotional balance and a better business mind. If you’ve never meditated, try it! Start small by simply sitting still and keeping your eyes closed for five minutes. Feel the weight of your body in its sitting position. Try to simplify your thoughts to basic things, down to the subtle sounds of the room, your breathing. Mindfulness meditation does not require extensive study in ancient traditions. Notice the difference after only five minutes; you will feel more relaxed. Later, try it for 10 minutes, and then longer. Do your due diligence in that state of mind. The equanimity that will sharpen your acumen is also the source of your happiness in life. Don’t trade it for anything.
About Dr. Stephen Josephs: With more than 30 years experience as an executive coach and consultant, Stephen Josephs, Ed. D, helps leaders build vitality and focus to make their companies profitable – and great places to work. His doctorate at the University of Massachusetts focused on Aesthetics in Education: how to teach anything through art, music, drama and movement. Josephs is particularly interested in the intersection of business performance, psychology and mind/body disciplines. His new novel, “Dragons at Work,” tells the story of a tightly wound executive – a fictionalized case study of coaching that produces fundamental changes in a leader. Josephs has also co-authored “Leadership Agility: Five Levels of Mastery in Anticipating and Initiating Change” (Jossey-Bass, 2006) with Bill Joiner, which shows how certain stages of psychological development affect leadership.
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