Can Meditation Make You A Better Leader?July 2, 2020 | Posted by Jeff Seeley in Leadership Development, Sales Motivation
It would be an understatement to say that over the last several months, as sales leaders, we’ve been in survival mode. When the pandemic hit, it brought along with it a threat to not only the success of our businesses, but our personal welfare. In perceiving this threat, our brains (mainly the amygdala) kicked in and narrowed our focus on doing what was essential to survive.
You’ve certainly noticed this happening at your own organization and your customers’ organizations. Spending has been reduced, you’ve had to quickly formulate ways to keep your core business up and running, and so on. While survival thinking like this is essential when an immediate threat is present (think flight or fight), it can create some unproductive patterns in our thought processes such as: worst-case scenario thinking; limited access to the creative and analytical parts of our brains; and an impairment in our ability to empathize, listen and relate to others. What’s interesting about this is that these skills are the exact skills we need to effectively lead in a time of crisis.
So, what can you do to ensure you are operating with these skills front and center instead of allowing them to be overtaken by survival thinking processes? As one Harvard Business Review article suggests, the answer is meditation! Meditation has been shown to calm the amygdala, increase our ability to think creatively and empathetically understand others’ perspectives. But how can a busy sales leader find time to meditate? The answer is relatively simple, and the Harvard Business Review article points out some easy ways to work meditation into your days as a busy leader!
Make meditation part of your morning routine. Instead of checking your email, the news, or your phone first thing in the morning, grab a cup of coffee or tea and navigate to a relaxing spot in your house. Set your timer for five minutes and just sit in quiet mindfulness. When your mind starts to wander about everything you have to do that day, bring your thoughts to focus instead on your breathing. By not starting your day off in a reactive mode (i.e. checking your phone or email), you’ll begin to notice you start your days with an open mind and awareness of possibilities you would not have seen otherwise. This ultimately positions you for more centeredness and calmness throughout the day.
Meditate before meetings. Take a few minutes before your weekly or daily meeting to sit quietly and be present. As leaders, it’s typical for us, especially during the current times, to always be in “action mode.” But taking some time before meetings to notice your own emotions and quietly observe what you’re feeling in the moment will prepare you to be more open to ideas and to truly listen to what others in the meeting are saying. This ability to step outside your own mind and set your ego aside can have a positive effect on your team’s ability to work collaboratively together to solve problems.
Take a step back when your thoughts go awry. When you start to feel anxiety creeping up on you at different times throughout the day – meditate! Sit in your chair, quiet your mind, and focus on your breathing. When you feel anxious, it’s likely because you’ve gone down a rabbit hole of thinking about all the possible ways something could go when, really, it’s all just a scenario you’ve made up in your mind. Bringing yourself back to the present moment in these instances can help you to notice a new opening of opportunities and possibilities.
When it comes to being an excellent leader at all times, but especially during times of crisis, you must have the ability to step outside of your own action-driven, survival-mode mind to focus on empathetically connecting with others and seeing things from different perspectives. Meditation is the key to tapping into these essential leadership skills and showing your team what you prioritize as their leader.
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