I recently became a Certified Mindfulness Facilitator with Wendy Quan, The Calm Monkey. As I walked through the months of training, practicing and learning, one of the foundational pieces we learned was “The 4 Attitudes of Mindfulness for Successful Meditation”. Each time we did a practice session, Wendy shared these 4 attitudes. After hearing them over and over again, I realized, “Wow! These are relevant and applicable to so many situations, including leadership!”
As leaders, some of our daily interactions can become frustrating and draining. The next time you are frustrated or exhausted think about these 4 Attitudes for Leadership and see if you can shift to a better place of balance.
- Have No Expectations
- Have No Judgment
- Have a Beginner’s Mind
- Be an Observer
Let’s take a look at these 4 attitudes and how they are relevant and applicable to leadership. These 4 attitudes can guide us to mastery of ourselves and as a leader. They are powerful “ways of being” that can be a compass for us to authentic leadership.
Have No Expectations (Meditation)
Bottom Line: If we don’t have any expectations, we can’t get frustrated! Think about that for a moment: “If we don’t have any expectations, we can’t get frustrated”. In meditation, this is probably the biggest problem for beginners; they expect their mind to be calm, or blank, when they meditate. This is an unfortunate myth that needs to be broken.
I have learned I will not ever have a calm mind when I meditate. This truly was the biggest reason in the past, I kept telling myself, “I can’t meditate, meditation is not for me, my mind is always going!” The reality is, while we are meditating, we will have some kind of a focus for our meditation session (for example, meditating on our breathing, that we can return to over and over again), but the human mind will wander & wander, and our job is to bring it back to the focus of our meditation gently. So, have no expectations of your meditation practice and know that every meditation session may be unique, and every person’s experiences are unique.
Have No Expectations (Leadership)
- As leaders, we must have expectations of ourselves as a leader and of our direct reports to ensure things get done. However, where this attitude can help us as a leader, is where we become attached to outcomes, whether for ourselves or others. If we are attached to an outcome, we are no longer in the present moment; we are living in the past or future.
- Living in the past, if an outcome/goal did not occur and we ruminate on the “why not, should have, could have, would have’s” and “who can I blame?” For a leader, this can waste a lot of energy and time, which are two of our most precious resources, and this type of attitude can and will disempower our team members.
- Living in the future, attached to an outcome/goal/deadline can create so much pressure on you as a leader and on others around us, which can impede progress and creativity and create fear which totally disempowers others and can stop productivity and execution.
- Bottom Line: have expectations for success and execution; however, don’t become attached to those expectations. Stay open, continually know the target, also know how and when to adapt and shift to be a more powerful and effective leader where you empower others and create an interdependent culture, where others feel they can execute, bring ideas and share their truth with their leaders in a safe and open environment.
Have a No-Judgment Attitude (Meditation)
- Simply, don’t judge yourself or your meditation experience.
- As you sit in meditation, you may talk to yourself, such as “oh, my mind is too busy and won’t calm down”, or “I don’t think I’m meditating correctly”.
- After your meditation, you may feel more relaxed or maybe feel anxious or have other emotions. If you feel worse, you might say “that was useless”.
- Be gentle on yourself, don’t judge anything. Just observe what’s happening.
Have a No-Judgment Attitude (Leadership)
- Please don’t judge yourself as a leader. It does not matter what our Leadership Assessments says or “labels” us. We, as human beings, have the ability to outperform or underperform any assessment that we take. It is a choice!
- Judging is harsh because we typically will label the situation/circumstance/person as good or bad. In life and leadership, good/bad/challenging things will happen — it is part of the journey. Stay away from Judgment and focus on the present moment. These are the circumstances in this moment: What is the best solution? Who are my resources? When we stay in judgment, we stimulate the limbic system, the emotional part of the brain which keeps us in reactive mode. Shift! It is a choice. Simply ask yourself a question and shift to the analytical part of the brain where you can actually – solve the problem!
- Judging others as good or bad is also a counter-productive attitude to have as a leader. Of course, we will come across people, who we lead, who we simply “don’t get along with” or “don’t understand”. Yea! That means we will be learning and growing as a leader. Take the time to get to know this person. I can guarantee you, if you take the time, you will find something you have in common, and your attitude will shift. People can feel when we judge them or don’t like them. We give off an energy simply by “thinking” I don’t like this person. Be aware! Judging others as a leader is counter-productive to what a leader wants and needs to get accomplished. It absolutely requires self-awareness and the ability to shift.
- Example: Let’s take a look at hiring: how does judgment or bias come into play? Implicit bias (stereotyping) is an automatic process that influences our hiring decisions. It’s our gut feeling. We may not realize that there exists a bias within ourselves in the areas of race, ethnicity, age, gender, socio-economic status, school attended, and even how a person looks, sounds, or dresses. But within 90 seconds of meeting a candidate, we form an opinion or judgment. Although our decisions might seem genuinely objective, we often don’t recognize that the best person for the job was eliminated solely on the grounds of our own implicit bias. Challenge yourself daily, as a leader to show up without judgment or bias – it’s not so easy!
Have a Beginner’s Mind (Meditation)
- Start each meditation session with a beginner’s mind. This means starting with a blank slate, no matter how much meditation experience you have, and not trying to recreate a past positive experience.
- Allow a freshness to open-up as you start your meditation, and don’t force anything in particular to happen.
Have a Beginner’s Mind (Leadership)
- As a leader we must have a mindset of continuous learning.
- From every interaction we have with circumstances/situations/people, we can learn something new. We can challenge ourselves outside of our comfort zone. We can listen to other’s ideas and feedback.
- We can shift our attitudes from “that’s the way we have always done it” to trying something new.
- Sometimes when solving a challenge, we have to challenge ourselves to look at, and think about the challenge in a different way, a new perspective, outside of the box. Who challenges you as a leader to think outside of the box? Every leader needs people who challenge us to see things from a different perspective. Different people will see and experience things uniquely – this is extremely important for leaders to allows others to share their perspectives and experiences.
- Example: A simple way to implement this as a leader is during a review, of course cover the basics (job expectations, team player, accomplishments, areas to grow, etc.). However, you can add:
- What is one thing you think we should STOP doing and why?
- What is one thing you think we should START doing and why?
- What is one thing you think we should CONTINUE doing and why?
- You will be amazed at what you might learn from asking those 3 questions!
Be an Observer (Meditation)
- Be a curious observer of what happens during meditation.
- Witness how your mind concentrates, how it might wander around, and how you feel physically and emotionally during a session.
- Take on an observation role, watching yourself and how you experience the session. Recognize your own attitudes.
- When we are beginners, we hope to find a place of quiet/stillness, instead we discover how very unquiet we are. Don’t get frustrated – it is part of the process. We cannot achieve a quieter/focused mind until first we become aware of how very noisy it is.
Be an Observer (Leadership)
- Curiosity is imperative as a leader. When we come from a curious place, we have the ability to pause and reflect, ask open-ended questions, give others an opportunity to share their knowledge, wisdom and experience and continue to learn and grow.
- Listening: listening is key for a leader, not just listening to words, using all of our senses to truly and deeply understand how things actually get done within the organization. Who is “happy” with their role and job and who is not? Who has more to offer? Who is in need of support? Who is struggling? How does a leader Be an Observer?
- Be Open to Honest Feedback: what are others observing about your leadership, way of doing and goals? Allow others to contribute to goals for the organization, this creates automatic buy-in. Have staff members, who you trust and know they will share the truth with you about your way of being – be curious and ask – “How am I doing as a leader”? “What would you recommend I do to create a healthier culture?”
- Example – Manage by Walking Around: Many of you have heard this term, it is so important as a leader. So often, a leader can be focusing so much ON the business and loose touch with what is going on IN the business. It is important, from my perspective, to get out behind your desk no less than, once a week and manage by walking around. Be Present, interact with your staff, observe what is really going on, use all of your senses, including our intuition and that takes slowing down and truly being present.
Leadership Challenge: Find ways you can implement these 4 Attitudes into your daily interactions with yourself and others.
- Have No Expectations
- Have No Judgment
- Have a Beginner’s Mind
- Be an Observer
Leadership is not about your title, your accomplishments, the tasks you get done, how much money you make, it is about growing yourself and others! It is about your attitudes: adopting the mindset of lifelong learning along with compassion for ourselves and others as we “find our way” through challenges and successes!