The winningest NBA coach ever uses mindful awareness as a leadership principle?! Maybe Phil Jackson's onto something. Jackson's mindful principles can be applied to any group effort, whether it be a sports team, in a corporate setting, or at home with your family.
-- "In the heat of the game, I simply tried to stay in the moment and make decisions based on what was actually happening," Jackson says in his latest book, Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success.
That's it! The perfect description of moment-to-moment awareness, oftentimes the end-goal of a mindful awareness practice. When you're able to be in the actual moments of your life, rather than the done-and-gone past or fantasy future, you're able to meet reality on its terms.
You're lighter on your feet, way less weighed down with false expectations and emotional reactions. It's a game-winning strategy.
-- "Leadership is not about forcing your will on others. It's about mastering the art of letting go," (ibid).
Curiously, letting go can signal great strength. Yes, work diligently to establish the conditions necessary for each individual on the team to do what he does best.
And then, let it be. Mindfulness is a powerful tool for learning to release the mind's grip on what it thinks is best. Which then creates space enough for others to utilize their full talents.
Synergy is a powerful tool for success. It cannot happen when one person is trying to force an outcome for the group.
-- "The most we can hope for is to create the best possible conditions for success, then let go of the outcome. The ride is a lot more fun that way," (ibid).
Mindfulness and fun? Who knew?! The things that happen to you as you're living your life are just that, things that happen.
What you tell yourself about those things becomes important. Life can be a big fat drag. Or it can be a blast. Cultivating mindful awareness invites you to enjoy the ride.
-- " ... There's nothing like a humiliating loss to focus the mind," (ibid).
Life comes with losses. Defeats. Two questions: What will you tell yourself about the inevitable challenges (see above)? Will you fall into the humiliation, and stay there, or will you use the experience to re-focus?
The wild horse of your mind loves to be galloping around the fields and pastures of your experiences and your stories about those experiences. With no idea that she's going absolutely nowhere.
There's another option. Learn to rein in that wild horse, and use its power to focus mindfully on tasks and goals.
-- "I think the most rewarding part of the job, and I think most coaches would say it, is practice. If you have it, a very good practice in which you have 12 guys participate, and they can really get something out of it, lose themselves in practice," (NBA Encyclopedia).
Losing yourself in what you're doing, when you're so in synch with the moment that all else falls away ... that's an optimum experience. You feel "strong, alert, in effortless control, unselfconscious, and at the peak of [your] abilities," says psychologist Mihalyi Czikszentmihalyi in his classic book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
Mindful awareness is a fantastic way to capture more of the sometimes-elusive state of flow.
It may appear paradoxical to use mindfulness as a tool for attaining your goals. But it sure has worked for Phil Jackson and his teams.