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. For more information, visit http://www.mindfulleadership.com/.
Welcome to the Institute for Mindful Leadership blog on the new Huffington Post Mindful Leadership Page! Over the next few months, we will share some insights and stories about what it means to be a mindful leader and how the practices of meditation, and what the Institute calls Purposeful Pauses©, can make an important difference in your life. You will hear from those who teach mindful leadership for the Institute and you will hear from a variety of people who have explored mindful leadership and have found that it is possible to lead and to live with excellence. These entries will culminate in a five-day intensive mindful leadership retreat this October. The retreat is called "Cultivating Leadership Presence through Mindfulness" and will be held at the Garrison Institute in upstate NY. We hope you will consider joining us to explore mindful leadership training in the company of professionals from all sectors of our society.
For now, let's begin with a definition. What is a 'mindful leader'? A mindful leader is someone who embodies leadership presence by cultivating focus, clarity, creativity and compassion in the service of others. If we look more deeply into this definition, we will notice that these four innate abilities are fundamentals of leadership excellence. And yet, even though these abilities are innate, we often fall short of our potential to embody leadership presence because we live in a world that surrounds us with unlimited distractions. These distractions pull us away from the present moment and keep us from listening to our own wisdom. We find ourselves mindlessly rushing from one appointment to the next, reacting to situations or simply missing entire days, weeks, even months of our lives. Is it really August already? Wasn't it just May? We fall into bed each evening, exhausted from our busy lives and yet feeling as though we don't attend to what is really important, at work or at home. Whether you lead a global organization, a classroom, a firm, a community group, a family, or yourself, training the mind through mindful leadership training will help you find the space to lead and live with excellence.
Let's return to our definition. A mindful leader is someone who embodies leadership presence by cultivating focus, clarity, creativity and compassion in the service of others. These innate capabilities of the mind -- focus, clarity, creativity and compassion -- can be trained and strengthened. Just as there are innate capabilities of our body that we can train to become stronger, more flexible and more resilient, we can train the innate capabilities of the mind through mindfulness meditation, Purposeful Pauses© and leadership reflections. When we do so, we begin to cultivate the ability to pay attention, to see when our own conditioning and filters may be clouding our ability to see what is actually here, to tap into the reservoir of creativity that often gets drowned out by our busyness and to embody the compassion that helps us to fully open our mind and our heart. We discover, or rediscover, our principles and our values. And we move toward developing into 'more of who we really are.'
As a beginning, spend a few minutes each day this week exploring the question of excellence. What does it mean to you? Have you experienced leadership excellence? What made that leader someone who excelled?
Executive Director, Institute for Mindful Leadership (www.InstituteforMindfulLeadership.org )
Author, Finding the Space to Lead: A Practical Guide to Mindful Leadership -- available for preorder now, Bloomsbury Press.