In today’s results-oriented world, the trend toward mindfulness might seem impractical to some. I often hear the lament, “who has the time?” To which I respond, “the practice can shift your experience of time in fundamental ways that will delight you.”
For me, mindfulness is not only an essential quality of living an awake and satisfying life; it has proven to be a mission critical component of my work supporting organizations, executives and individuals to harvest benefits from their endings and transitions.
Tracking with the Mindfulness Trend
As you are probably aware, mindfulness is surging as an international trend in the leadership and mind-body-wellness industry. Thirteen percent of U.S. workers report engaging in mindfulness-enhancing practices. And in one important area of my work, the training program that I lead for the Google-originated Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI.org) was featured in a Fast Company article, “How Google And Twitter Train Their Employees To Be More Mindful.”
An example of how powerful a simple experience of mindfulness can be occurred three weeks ago, at a SIYLI.org training I was teaching at Google HQ in Silicon Valley. We were only 15-minutes in to a 3-day class when a man I will call Javier exclaimed, “This practice is a game changer!” And then, without prompting, he asked the “$64,000 Question.” Javier wanted to know, “How can I make this a habit?”
The Power of a Direct Experience
Straight out of the gate, we always begin the class by inviting participants to sit for a 3 minute guided meditation. We don’t provide much instruction (that comes later in the morning). We simply encourage them to train their attention on their breath or to sit with no agenda.
Javier had entered the room visibly frazzled. Later he told me he had just had a tough conversation with his boss. He has a big job managing a team of 100 people with 7 direct reports in South America. In just 3 short minutes, Javier felt something shift from within, he was calmer and immediately saw the positive potential that a sitting practice could have on his day-to-day experience as a leader and as a father.
Using Mindfulness in Honorable Closure
This is exactly why mindfulness is a key component of my 4-Step Honorable Closure Process. We use awareness and inquiry to shift our relationship with endings and transitions, transforming them into opportunities to adapt and evolve. For example, after working privately with one client, I heard this:
“I was introduced to Linda’s Honorable Closure process while moving from one executive role to another under challenging circumstances. While it was easy to see what was difficult about my situation, Linda helped me tease out the learning’s and positive outcomes of my significant professional shift and how I can use them going forward.”– Jane B. SF Bay Area Non-profit Executive
That is the power of a mindful and appreciative inquiry. It draws out the subtle and not so subtle lessons from an experience so we can integrate them into the present.
No matter what your personal or professional situation is, bringing mindfulness to every completion can be a game changer for you too. Addressing unfinished business is one way to ‘get current’ with your life, and experience equanimity.
Another example of the power of mindfulness was revealed at one of my recent Finishing School workshops. Some participants lamented their lack of clarity about what to do next with their career, a project or a general circumstance. Living with uncertainty goes against the grain in our culture.
From a young age we are told we must know the answer to all the questions on the test. To admit ‘I don’t know’ can feel like a failure.
Using Honorable Closure, we explore the ways not knowing can be a paradoxical form of knowing. Mindfulness paves the way for that to happen.
“Mindfulness is a powerful tool to develop a stronger capability to handle ambiguity and complexity.”– Karen May, VP of people development at Google.”
Even the Finishing School participants who thought they knew what they wanted at the beginning of the six-week course, found things changed as new information became available via mindful inquiry. This included how they feel and what their intuition was nudging them toward in that moment. Neuroscience has validated the wisdom of paying attention to our emotions and ‘gut feelings’ because of the key role they play in decision-making.
To ignore them is to miss a huge chunk of compelling information that is only available through mindful awareness.
Depending on the magnitude of what is ending, we can harvest the benefits of endings in minutes or months and discern how we can use them to our advantage, rather than remaining stuck with the fears that tend to dominate our experience of change.
Now, that’s what I call the “gift of mindfulness” and, for me at least, underscores the value of having a mindfulness practice.
Please consider joining me if you are working with a personal or professional ending and would like the support of a group environment and to reflect and inquire into the gifts of what is ending and discern what is next. Registration includes two private calls with me.
“Whatever ending you are facing – whether personal or professional – you need to stop everything you are doing/not doing and take yourself through Linda Curtis’s practical and transformational 4-step process for moving through Honorable Closure to a New Beginning. In a relatively short period of time, her practical exercises and insightful coaching skills empowered me to honorably end a long time business relationship with a friend (which I was dreading) and still retain the friendship and feel more self affirmed moving into my future. This was transformational for me!”— Michelle Jurika, “Finishing School” participant