Do you want to be a leader for others to serve you or to serve others? Most of those who consider themselves leaders, and that I have known for 20 years, are in the first category. Only a few of them would be in the second. We will see throughout the article what this has to do with a Mindfulness Leader.
Let´s remember that in order to achieve Mindfulness Organizations, it is necessary to work on five pillars (Leadership, Culture, Teams, Ways of Working and Vision / Mission). In this article we focus on introducing the first one, Mindfulness Leader, because the key to the transformation towards Mindfulness Organizations is in the leaders of the organization, since these are the ones who shape the culture of a company and the well-being or discomfort of the employees.
If you read articles from relevant influencers or organizations focused in leadership, we see how the concept of the leader is completely transforming, from the traditional leader focused on Goals, P&L and rather dehumanized, to a totally transformative and inspiring one whose main focus is on people.
I recommend you take a look at the Oxford Leadership website, or calmly read books such as that by María González (Mindful Leadership), Mindfulness in Organizations by Cambridge Companions to Management, or Working with Mindfuness (Research and Practice of Mindful Techniques in Organizations) .
We are also immersed in the fourth industrial revolution, which is changing in an extraordinarily the way we live, work and interact. Already in 2016 Klaus Schwab predicted in the “World Economic Forum” that this is a revolution that is unlike any of the previous ones. And in January of this year 2021 it was stated in the same forum that, in a recent survey, 63% of CEOs consider that Artificial Intelligence will have a greater impact than the Internet.
The fourth industrial revolution brings us AI (Artificial Intelligence), smart and connected systems, nanotechnology, gene sequencing, renewable energy, quantum computing, 3D printing, driverless cars, digital money, robotics, drones, biological advancements and much, much more ….
This, impacts both our personal lives and our organizations, and managing all this successfully requires new leadership skills.
What is a Mindfulness Leader
From y point of view, the simplest definition of a Mindfulness Leader is a person who is clear about their purpose in life and always shows coherence between what they think, what they feel, what they say and what they do, that is, authentic. He/She is always at the service of others and is an inexhaustible Source of Inspiration and Transformation.
This is only possible if we really know who we are, what we want and what we don’t want and we are in harmony with ourselves and with everything around us.
We can all be Mindfulness Leader of our own life, our family, our friends or our teams. You don’t need to have a “Management or C-Level” position for being a Mindfulness Leader, it goes much further.
The most important thing for a Mindfulness Leader is to be aligned with their purpose, and that purpose comes from self-knowledge, from experimentation, from contact with others, from giving themselves time and space to feel, to learn, to think and to decide.
If you compare the 8 stages of Patanjali that we saw in the previous article with what María González tells us in her book Mindful Leadership, you will see a great similarity, she tells us about the way of being of a Mindful Leader:
- They are present.
- They are aware.
- They are calm.
- They are focused.
- They are clear.
- They are equanimous.
- They are positive.
- They are compassionate.
- They are impeccable (not confused with being perfect).
Becoming a Mindfulness Leader requires a personal Transformation. First you have to become a Mindfulness Leader of yourself and then become a Mindfulness Leader in your organization.
The bad news is that the transformation does not occur because you choose the red pill (like in Matrix film), but because you suddenly realize that there are other ways of understanding and doing things, and you decide to start the path towards this new paradigm, little by little, step by step.
I have been practicing yoga and meditation for 12 years, with different levels of intensity during this time, but both have been the trigger for really disruptive changes in my life. I can’t explain what is happening, you just have to experience it, but some part of your brain wakes up and starts putting possibilities in front of your face that you didn’t even imagine existed.
I always tell that the 4 essential things in my suitcase, for a disruptive change to occur in my life are:
1.- Yoga and meditation, increasing my moments of silence.
2.- Natural and conscious diet, which activates my body and my mind.
3.- The books of Mario Alonso Puig.
Don’t ask me why, but they are always there when I have needed to climb another step, because our self-knowledge never goes in a straight line, but on steps, you have to go up steps to evolve, and each climb make you leave from your comfort zone, so get ready to ride the roller coaster.
The bad news is that it never ends, and the good news, that it is an amazing trip.
And I can ensure that according I have been transforming myself, my leadership style too. I have many things in my back I am not at all proud of and many other things that I am very proud of, but if I have to highlight something, it would be that this journey of personal transformation has made me more honest, respectful, transparent, trustworthy, empathetic, focused, curious, intelligent and creative.
I have an infinite road to travel, and believe that I do not want to use myself as an example of anything, but just to be able to say these words, for me it has been a road to travel for more than 12 years. So be patient!!!
Once a colleague I met in a course, Carmen, told me: «Being creative does not mean painting well» and that was right. For me now the meaning of being creative is related to looking from another perspective, not painting like Vicent Van Gogh, and in the same way, my understanding now of honesty, respect, empathy, curiosity, etc. . they have radically changed. And that only happens because I look from another perspective.
It does not matter at what point of consciousness or self-knowledge you are now, whatever it is, if you have come this far, it is that it has awakened your interest and that is the key. In an interview I heard from Borja Villaseca, (Communicator, entrepreneur and creator of pedagogical systems) he said that people need to be thirsty for transformation, and although in this article or in any book or website, you can find water, we can never generate thirst, thirst is personal and non-transferable, only you can be thirsty for transformation.
A big mistake that I have seen systematically, is that the leaders of the organizations say flatly that people have to transform to achieve the objectives of the organization, and launch large programs of supposed transformation, without understanding that someone only transforms if she/he is thirsty for transformation, if you have gone through a crisis or suffering, which are usually the triggers for transformations.
How daring humans being are, thinking that people transform because we want to or because we «order» it. That’s not going to happen.
Recipe to be a Mindfulness Leader
If you have decided that you want to be a Mindfulness Leader, Congratulations! You are in the right place.
I will tell you below the ingredients of the recipe to be a Mindfulness Leader, but as usual, the same recipe with the same ingredients, it never comes out the same, there are other elements such as water, the type of heat, the quality of the food , the affection with which it is cooked … which always have an important influence.
Well, here the same, your environment, your personal and family situation, your energy at the moment, your motivation, your level of discomfort with your current situation … all this will influence, but the important thing is to start cooking.
I will tell you the ingredients that are the most important for me, and we will see them in more detail in other articles to give you more tricks. Even if I put them in an order, they do not necessarily have to go in sequence, but I have lived them in this order and that is why it is easier for me to write them that way.
Be silent with yourself
How are we going to know who we are, what we want and what we need, if we don’t have a second of peace and silence in our lives? We get up and we are already looking at the mobile, we run to all the places, work, children, obligations, house, shopping …
More than 12 years ago I lived in this way, I was not happy, I had health problems and I spent the day instead of living, surviving … but not a single minute of my day did I stop to ask myself simple questions such as:
How do I feel? Am I happy? Is this the life I want to have? What I need? What can I do today to take care of myself?
At that moment I started practicing yoga and meditation, I gave myself for months 3 hours a week to be with myself, to feel my body, to quiet my mind a little, and suddenly, I asked myself the questions and the answers came to me … That was not the way, and I changed it. It was not easy, it was not quick, nor was it free of suffering, it was the greatest crisis I had ever had in my life up to that moment, but I cannot be happier to have started the journey.
Since then, I have had many more moments of suffering and crisis, and all, without being easy, have always been good and have helped me to find myself. In fact, thanks to my last crisis I have decided to create this personal project of sharing my vision of organizations and leadership.
We need more silence, disconnect electronic devices. Nothing happens for not answering in several hours to WhatsApp or Telegram or Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter or any other social network or channel. We are not going to stop having friends for not giving a like 30 seconds after a message appears on our mobile, and if we lose them, it is because they were not real friends.
Be silent with yourself, experience it, it will surprise you.
And if you feel that it is hard to you, write, write every day in a notebook how you feel, what worries you and what you need. Let yourself go, without limits, write what comes to your mind.
And if you dare, meditate, do mindfulness, or go for a run or whatever it is that you need to be with yourself, present, feeling your body, calming your mind and asking yourself the powerful questions. How do I feel? Am I happy? Is this the life I want to have? What I need? What can I do today to take care of myself?
You only need 10 minutes a day for things to magically start to happen. Of course, if the crisis comes, do not blame me, experience it and go up a step. You just need to be constant and patient, it does not happen in a day but needs your time, 1 month 2 or 10 … each person is different.
These moments of personal silence are an oasis of peace to face your workday, allowing you to be more present, aware, focused, calm, positive, creative… the benefits are infinite.
You cannot be a Mindfulness Leader without having moments of silence EVERY day.
Be careful what you eat
Our body is our vehicle to move, communicate, have fun, live… and the food, our gasoline. Do not fill your body with toxins and fast/junk food. Give it real and healthy food that will fill you with energy and vitality. Anne Marie Colbin said that food is just waht grows from the ground, runs or swim…. Have you ever seen a plant grow if you plant a macaroni? Or a fish and chips swimming in the sea?
Are you aware of the impact of sugar, dairy, gluten or GMOs on your body? There is a lot of literature and specialized websites if you want to investigate, I recommend the soy como como website, the book «Grain Brain» by David Perimutter or the book by Xevi Verdaguer where it shows in a fantastic way the impact of food on our body (sorry because of most of the referecences are in Spanish).
More than 10 years ago I met Elena Carrió, and she completely changed my vision of food, I also recommend you take a look at her website and her master’s degree in natural and conscious nutrition (I have done it twice, face-to-face and virtual because each year new studies appear relating diet to mental, emotional and physical health).
Move your body
We are not designed to be sitting, the effects of movement on our body are really incredible, we need to exercise, at least 30 min. per day, not only activates us and gives us energy, but also generates endorphins and a lot of other biochemical effects that will benefit us physically and mentally.
If you want to see it in more detail, I recommend Mario Alonso Puig’s book “Tus tres super-poderes”.
Live the crisis or suffering as an opportunity for Transformation
As Borja Villaseca said in an interview with Xuan Lan (famous yogui in Spain with a very extense yoga platform), without crisis or suffering there is no transformation.
Do you know someone who considers changes in his/her life when he/she is happy? Or rather, do we think about it when we are unhappy? From my personal experience, it is always the second.
Take advantage of every moment of crisis or suffering to climb the next step, be silent with yourself and ask yourself the powerful questions, surely you will find answers.
Wake up your thirst for transformation
Do you ever wonder if what you do or live could be better? Do you read or listen to leadership references? Are there references in your organization that inspire you?
To awaken your thirst for transformation you have to open your mind, observe and rethink everything, visualize what a situation would be like in which you are a Mindfulness Leader. What would be different in your life or in your team life?
Know who you really are
As I said before, you can never be a Mindfulness Leader of a team if you are not a Mindfulness Leader of yourself first.
Here is a long and exciting way, which begins with understanding what your values are, what drives you and what you are “designed for”.
What you like, what you dislike, what you are passionate about, what bores you, what makes you laugh, what makes you suffer …
And never give anyone the power to validate yourself or decide your destiny, only you have that power, give yourself time and space to discover it, or look for someone to help you, there are fantastic coaches who can help you. I give a thousand thanks to Judith Janssen who has accompanied me on this path of self-knowledge, I never thought it could be such a unique experience!
Give yourself permission to be human, imperfect and vulnerable
Forget about that mask of being Superman or Superwoman, we are human and imperfect, and it is fantastic, because when you assume it, you live happier.
If others see you sad, worried, hurt or angry does not imply that you are a bad leader, in fact, being vulnerable shows everyone that you are human, and that will bring them closer to you.
Einstein already said that to mistake is human and to rectify is wise.
Find your purpose in life
This is the most difficult of all, because we have so many social, cultural and family bounds that many times we don’t even know where to start.
Unfortunately, in conventional education no one teach you about these things and until quite recently, showing emotions was considered a weakness, so anyone dared to find themselves …
Fortunately, things are changing and if you want, you can. This often ends up coming as a consequence of all of the above or simply when you feel that you are in the wrong place at the wrong time and decide to change it.
Keep climbing steps
Never stop, the world is in continuous change and transformation (ying and yang) some stars are created and others are destroyed, day follows night, autumn follows summer …
Always look for coherence between what you think, what you feel, what you say and what you do, that is your goal, and enjoy the journey because it will be full of learning, successes and exciting moments.
And never forget to celebrate!
What kind of leader am I now and how can I evolve?
Surely you are wondering what kind of leader you are now and how close or far you are from being a Mindfulness Leader.
I’m going to tell you about the types of leaders that I know so that, if you are one of those who need a selft-assestment and a roadmap, you can find it too.
My classification is not related to any orthodox, scientific or recognized classification in the world of leadership, it is only a classification from the point of view of how much mindfulness there is in each type of leader (or non-leader) that I have known.
We will go into more detail in other articles because I see that it requires detailed explanation, but at least I will state them.
- Lost Leaders. They are those who only think of power and recognition, ignoring the impact that their actions and decisions have on people. They always work to achieve their personal goals (which in many cases do not exactly coincide with those of the organization).
- Sleeping Leaders. They are those who follow the paradigm of leadership based only on objectives and P&L, considering people as a means to achieve their personal objectives (which do not always coincide with the objectives of the organization).
- Awakening Leaders. They are those who are in transition between Sleeping Leaders or Lost Leaders and Leaders.
- Leaders. People awake, present, focused, intelligent, curious and concerned about the people in the organization and their well-being as the engine of organizational success and achievement of objectives.
- Mindfulness Leader. Inspirational leaders, drivers of change, of well-being and generators of sustainable success.
Hopefully all this that I have told you has contributed something to you on the way to a Mindfulness Leader. I await your comments and feedback!