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The Most Precious Gift: Cultivating the Ability to Lead and Live With Excellence

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This post is part of a series on Cultivating Leadership Presence through Mindfulness. The series will culminate in a four-day mindful leadership retreat in New York in October 2013. While the October Mindful Leadership Retreat is now filled, we are happy to announce the opening of registration for the early April, New York-based Mindful Leadership Retreat. For details, visit

In the past year, I have been interviewed many times about the relationship between mindfulness and leadership. Why do we want to explore this training of the mind in the development of excellence? Is it to become better at our chosen career? It has the potential to do so. But is there, in fact, something more that is drawing us to explore this relationship?

In my experience, first as a corporate officer and now as the Executive Director of the Institute for Mindful Leadership, the answers to those questions can be found at the very fundamental level of what it means to be a part of the human family.

The very best leaders are passionate about making a difference. This is true whether they are leading a global organization, a small business, a team or a family. They are looking for innovative ways to meet what is here, and they often feel as though something is missing. They are people with bright minds and warm hearts. And when they, on occasion, stop long enough to listen to their own wisdom, they see, or perhaps feel, that what is missing is more of who they really are.

The 'more' is the part of us that is often lost when we are living our overscheduled lives on 'autopilot.' It is the part of us that is hiding in our 'success,' all the while knowing that no matter how much money and recognition we receive, it will not be the way to let our full and true selves shine. And it is the part of us that knows we need to be connected to ourselves, those around us and our community to feel fulfilled.

But, how do we begin to find the 'more'?

The good news is that the journey begins by rediscovering the mind's innate capacity to be present for our lives. It is not an outside tool or skill. We are born with the capacity to be present. When we train this capacity of the mind, we are learning to cultivate the space we need to make conscious decisions about how we spend our time. It is in this space that we can bring all of our experiences, education and inner wisdom to the moment. It is in this space that we begin to reveal our humanity and embody our passion to make a difference, to lead with excellence.

We learn that our pursuit of money and titles and recognition will never be enough to make us feel whole. And we learn that the most precious gift, the one that can transform our lives from autopilot to fulfilling is, in fact, right here, right now.

Janice L. Marturano is the author of the upcoming book 'Finding the Space to Lead: A Practical Guide to Mindful Leadership' to be published January, 2014