Posts Tagged ‘Mindfulness’

Power Stress: A Leadership Reality

September 16th, 2013

While leaders often find their work stimulating and enjoy the challenges that come with the position, the work, as you know, can also be highly stressful. Clearly, the nature of the work: increased responsibility, ambiguities, pressure to achieve results by influencing others, and the loneliness inherent in leadership positions takes its toll.

As a result of these demands, leaders often experience what is known as “power stress,” a term coined by Boyatzis and McKee, which leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, if not adequately dealt with. So power stress is part of the experience that results from the exercise of influence and sense of responsibility felt in leadership positions.

We know about the impact of stress, on our health, our relationships, and on our leadership ability. The chronic stress that comes with leadership positions have been connected to a wide range of diseases and dysfunctions. It can also lead to a state of “dissonance” which we know drains the enthusiasm and energy of teams and organizations.

But, the problem is not simply power stress. It has always been a part of leadership reality. The issue is too little recovery time. While the pressure and stresses will not relent, the key is to take steps in which recovery can be achieved. Mindfulness meditation is a key in this renewal process.

We would love for you to join us in one of our forthcoming  mindfulness courses. Both start on October 5th. Click on the titles to learn more.

The Mindful Leader: Cultivating a Leadership Presence

An Introduction to Mindfulness

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Five Ways to Decrease Negativity at Work

March 25th, 2011

High-powered teams have a positivity ratio of 6:1. That’s right. Six positives for every negative. What is the positivity ratio at your workplace? And what can you do to increase it?

Two ways to increase our positivity ratio: Increase the positive and decrease the negative. Let’s talk about decreasing the negative.

Reducing negativity may indeed by the quickest way to increase your positivity ratio. The concept of “negativity-bias” tells us that our negative thoughts are much stronger than our positive thoughts. So, mathematically, we will get the best and fastest results by reducing negativity.

1. Dispute negative thinking. Dispute negative thinking the way a lawyer would: by examining the facts. Ask: What were the negative thoughts? What triggered the negative thoughts? How did those thoughts make me feel? How does this compare to reality? What is the truth here? Then dispute the negative thinking with the truth.

2. Break the pattern of ruminating. When something negative happens, we have a habit of going over it again and again in our mind. Telling others. Not letting it go. Often finding ourselves spiralling down and getting stuck in the depths of despair. Once you are aware of the fact that you are ruminating, the quickest way to stop it is to distract. Find a way to lift your mood – in a healthy way (no drugs or alcohol).

3. Become more mindful. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as: “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” So being mindful means paying attention to your inner experience and thoughts without judgment. Become a witness to your thoughts and your feelings, and in this case, your negative thoughts and the feelings that arise. With awareness comes choice.

4. Reduce the negative input. Unfortunately, negativity grabs us. It draws us in. And gets a grip on us. What are you watching on television? Reading in the newspapers? What types of movies interest you? Media violence zaps your empathy and your kindness. The same is true for gossip. Shut off the television. Get your news online and choose what you want to pay attention to. Stop the gossip.

5. Change how you are with negative people. Get interested in them as people. Take the lead in the conversation. Ask questions. Look for positives. What are their strengths? Passion? What do you share in common? Choose activities that you are both interested in. Inject compassion, hope or humour. Reframe the relationship.  Ask: what can I learn from this person? Are they a teacher in disguise?

It is next to impossible to have spirit at work and be negative. It is next to impossible to be part of a high-powered team and be negative. It Is next to impossible to feel good about our work and the contribution we make when we are negative. But it is possible to reduce the negativity in our lives and our work – simply by shifting our thinking. It is time to rethink our life and our work.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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Pause and Pay Attention: A Mindfulness Strategy

March 1st, 2010

My last two blogs (Can mindfulness training protect us from high stress,challenging work situations?  The Art of Being Mindful) about being mindful were so well received that I decided to share another excerpt from my book: Rethinking Your Work: Getting to the Heart of What Matters.

Pausing and paying attention is another simple way to enjoy the benefits of mindfulness. Here is the excerpt:

Pause and Pay Attention

Take a five-minute walk. Inside or outside. Your task is to observe. To be mindful. To notice. To pause and pay attention. Sights. Smells. Sounds. Touch. Taste. Feelings. As you walk around, see these things through the eyes of a child, as if you were seeing them for the first time. See with wonder, delight and absorption. This is mindfulness, or moment-by-moment, non-judgmental awareness. Come back and jot down what the experience was like and what you noticed.

I find that people are often very surprised at what they observe, especially if they apply the exercise in a familiar territory like their workplace. One group of employees was shocked to notice pictures on walls they had been walking past for years! Others were surprised to actually observe the route they took to work. They could not believe the scenery they had been missing. Rather than view the drive to work as drudgery, one person began to look forward to the changing fall colors. One woman had never before noticed a scent in her workplace. 

All this because they took the time to notice. To be mindful. 

Whenever you have a moment, pause and pay attention. Practice mindful eating. As you eat your meal, become fully conscious of the smell and taste of your food. Be aware of the color. Feel the texture. Notice what happens as you chew the food, feel it move from your mouth down through your throat to your stomach. 

Take time to pause and pay attention to everyday tasks like gardening, grocery shopping, washing dishes. Use the opportunity of being stuck in traffic to breathe and notice your surroundings. What is the scenery? What colors are new vehicles? What songs are playing on the radio? Think of it — you don’t have anything to do but be. Enjoy the moment. 

If you phone someone and are put on hold, close your eyes and become aware of your body. Notice any tension you might be holding and release it. Observe your breath. Choose to use the few minutes that on-hold status has given you. Give thanks for the opportunity to pause and pay attention.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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The Art of Being Mindful

February 25th, 2010

In my recent blog Can mindfulness training protect us from high-stress, challenging work situations? I promised an excerpt from my book regarding being mindful. Here it is:

Being Mindful

We frequently go through our day-to-day actions on autopilot. Not thinking. Not being aware of what is happening around us. Zoning out or not paying attention. Shutting down the inputs because we have reached our capacity. We often lose the present moment because we are thinking about the future or worrying about something that happened in the past. In doing so, we miss the gifts of the present — a smile, the beauty of a flower, the warmth of a touch or the gift of kindness.

When we are caught up in thoughts or worries, we are effectively absent from our body. No one is home. We might be walking by a beautiful garden, but we cannot see the flowers. We can be served a delicious meal, but we do not taste it. Our loved ones may be sending us strong cues, but we do not hear them. We are preoccupied. But by shifting our attention to the present moment — to our breathing, walking and surroundings — we come back into our body and become aware.

Mindfulness is about paying attention on purpose. Noticing in a non-judgmental way. Being present. Living in the moment. Being aware. Giving 100 percent attention to what we are doing. It is about tasting the food we eat, smelling the scents of the out-of-doors, seeing the beauty in the everyday. It is about being present with our customers, clients, colleagues, friends and family members. Being in touch with their needs.

Being mindful involves quieting the mind and practicing stillness in order to create space for a deeper way of knowing, and increasing awareness of self and what matters. Thus, to be mindful is to observe self or as Wayne Dyer calls it, to witness one’s life. As we become an observer, we gain clarity about our unique purpose.

Being mindful is a way to access our own resources for growing, healing and self-compassion. Mindfulness provides access to the inner wisdom required to create the kind of life we wish to lead. Moreover, it is a practical way to get in touch with our authentic self. It involves self-observation and self-inquiry.

So, we want to shift our attention to the present moment and the nuances around us. We want to use all our senses, taking time to taste and smell, hear and see, touch and feel. We want to take the time to feel our connectedness with all things.

Mindfulness reflection. In what ways have you been mindful? Examples might include paying attention to the taste and texture of the foods you eat, being present and fully listening to a colleague or friend as they talk, or thinking carefully before speaking so that your message will be heard. Maybe it is listening to sounds, smelling smells and seeing the sights around you. We’ve all experienced mindfulness. Take a moment to remind yourself how it felt to be present, open and aware. What could you do to be more mindful?

I would love to hear about how you have been mindful at work and what difference that made.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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Can mindfulness training protect us from high-stress, challenging work situations?

February 21st, 2010

When it comes to wellbeing and work performance, we all know about the value of physical fitness, but what about fitness of the mind? University of Pennsylvania researchers tested the effectiveness of a mindfulness program with a U.S. military group preparing for deployment to Iraq. They found a positive link between mindfulness training and improvements in mood and working memory. Sounds like something we can all benefit from.

The aim of the eight-week program was to cultivate greater psychological resilience by bolstering mindfulness – the ability to be aware and attentive of the present moment without emotional volatility.

Covering topics relevant to the Marines, the program blended mindfulness skills training with concrete applications for their operational environment. It emphasized integrating regular mindfulness exercises, like focused attention on the breath and mindful movement.

The study, published in the journal Emotion, found that the more time participants spent engaging in daily mindfulness exercises the better their mood and ability to engage in complex thought processes, problem solving and manage their emotions (something they call working memory). The study also suggests that sufficient mindfulness practice may protect against becoming ill due to high-stress, challenging situations.

Given the high rate of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental-health disturbances suffered by those returning from war, providing such training prior to deployment may buffer against potential lifelong psychological illness by bolstering mood and working memory capacity. But employees in the military are not the only ones who can benefit.

Amishi Jha, cognitive neuroscientist and lead researcher, Department of Psychology and Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Penn said,

“Our findings suggest that, just as daily physical exercise leads to physical fitness, engaging in mindfulness exercises on a regular basis may improve mind-fitness. Building mind-fitness with mindfulness training may help anyone who must maintain peak performance in the face of extremely stressful circumstances, from first responders, relief workers and trauma surgeons, to professional and Olympic athletes.”

And I would add: social workers, teachers, health care workers, public servants . . .

Mindfulness is about paying attention on purpose. Noticing in a non-judgmental way. Being present. Living in the moment. Being aware. In my next blog, I will share an excerpt about being mindful from my book: Rethinking Your Work: Getting to the Heart of What Matters.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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