My friend Ermina told me the other day that she is focused on being in a state of mindfulness. I wasn’t sure at first if this meant that her mind was full and she was stressed or if it meant that she wanted to become more aware of herself and her surroundings. Well, of course she meant the latter, and it occurred to me that I could probably learn a little about being more mindful in my everyday life as well.
According to Wikipedia, Mindfulness “is a spiritual faculty that is considered to be of great importance in the path to enlightenment according to the teaching of the Buddha.” It can also be translated as awareness.
Wikipedia goes on to say that “the Buddha advocated that one should establish mindfulness in one’s day-to-day life maintaining as much as possible a calm awareness of one’s bodily functions, sensations (feelings), objects of consciousness (thoughts and perceptions), and consciousness itself. The practice of mindfulness supports analysis resulting in the arising of wisdom.”
As I thought about this concept, I began to ponder how often I perform daily tasks at work or at home which are so routine and mundane that sometimes I don’t remember doing them. Or how often I’m unaware of my surroundings or those I come into contact with each day as I’m busy ‘working’ or getting things done.
For instance, I take my mother-in-law to the local beauty college every Saturday morning for her weekly wash & set. Depending on whether she has a new student or a graduating student – this wash and set could take up to two hours. I typically run errands while I’m waiting, but sometimes my mind becomes so focused on work and the past and upcoming week that I arrive home after a few hours without my mother-in-law! I drive right by the beauty college and completely forget that I have a responsibility to pick her up. I would consider this not being mindful.
The more I contemplated this – the more I realized how much I might be missing in my life. Like when I hear about the things going on in my employees’ lives that I was not aware of, or when the end of the workday arrives and I can’t remember what actually transpired that day.
As a business owner my mind is always spinning with ideas, opportunities and items that I should take action on to move the business forward. Am I missing the opportunity to gain wisdom in what I’m doing by not living in a state of mindfulness? I believe I am – the wisdom that comes from awareness of myself, my surroundings and my actions. I do schedule time each week to work “on my business” vs. “in my business” but this is not enough.
In order to be truly mindful is to have awareness throughout every moment of every day. I guess the true wisdom comes by not only being mindful but digesting this information while you’re experiencing it. So, I’m not only listening more intently to the individual in front of me, but I’m focused on observing my reactions to what they’re saying intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.
Most of us can probably become more aware and develop our mindfulness as we actively participate in our busy, task filled lives. As leaders, take time to be more mindful of all your interactions throughout your day. Listen for the internal reactions you may be having towards situations and people, and don’t ignore those signals, as they may possess a new level of awareness and wisdom.
This is another article in a series on Michael’s entrepreneurial story and how being raised in a large family has influenced his career. To read the previous articles in this series, visit his blog at www.Collaboration-llc.com.
Michael Gunther is Founder and President of Collaboration LLC, a team of highly skilled business professionals who are dedicated to assisting proactive business owners to build profitable, sustainable businesses through results-oriented education, coaching, and consulting services. Learn more at www.Collaboration-llc.com.