A few times a day, my Apple watch reminds me to breathe. Like many, I googled this feature when I started receiving these notifications at the most inconvenient times. Before I can hit dismiss, my watch steals my attention and I am momentarily captured as the animated flower fills the tiny screen and slowly expands and contracts.
Prompts to take a few mindful breaths come at the most anxious moments. These inopportune reminders have impeccable timing: when I’m emotionally spent, overwhelmed, challenged by a difficult task, engaged in a difficult conversation or disrupted by an unforeseen turn of events. In times of high anxiety, taking a few focused breaths shifts my perspective from the external to the internal and affirms that the one person I can control is me.
In a world where the demands of life and leadership are expanding exponentially, where the pressure to do more is ever increasing, where difficult conversations are necessary in making progress and leadership has never been more important or complex, practicing mindfulness is critical for effective leadership. It can determine the difference between a good idea and a great idea. It can provide the space for refueling that drives a project to completion. It can move strategic decision-making from acceptable to a place of high effectiveness.
So, take time today to inhale and exhale deeply and:
- Notice and intentionally release the stress where ever it collects in your body
- Identify anxiety or unproductive feelings that are influencing your thinking, decisions or actions
- Ask yourself if there is another lens that you can see through or voice you can to listen to that can help you discover new possibilities or approaches to the challenge you are facing
- Give yourself the space to determine what really matters and focus your efforts there
The not-so-subtle prompts to just breathe can help us to push away the obstacles, lean into the opportunities, and discover how we can focus on the mission that really matters.
Image Credit: David Mark on Pixabay