Learning to quiet the mind in order to lead with the heart.
A key part of the work I do with leaders and their teams is to help them understand the impact the human experience has on their leadership, and in particular how their thoughts, and beliefs shape the way they view, and operate, within their worlds.
We generate between 50,000 - 70,000 thoughts each day, which makes them the single most influential driver of how we perceive and respond to the people and environments around us.
Clearly, operating from a positive and optimistic frame of mind is the ideal we all strive for, however, even the most positive and optimistic of us will, from time to time, find themselves in places where they struggle to let go of some deeply entrenched way of thinking.
And even when we are cognisant of the fact that we are choosing to attach to certain beliefs, the draw can be so powerful, the belief so firmly entrenched, that we struggle to extinguish those repetitive and self-defeating thoughts.
So how can we overcome these thought patterns, and to quiet our busy minds long enough to allow ourselves to tap into our inner calm and listen to our hearts, because it is here that the biggest transformations take place.
My professional philosophy is based on the belief that 'in order to lead others one must first learn to lead the self' so here are my top 10 practices for becoming more mindful of the beliefs, motivations and self talk shaping my perceptions.
1. “Is this important right now?" This is a great reminder to get out of heads and create the space to become present in the moment, feeling it and owning it rather than missing it because you are too busy thinking of the moment yet to come.
2. “Let gratitude fill your mind” instead of letting your mind run riot with all the things that are not as you would like them to be, refocus your mind on being grateful for all that you have. Gratitude is a powerful way to put things in perspective and connect to your heart.
3. “Hit the mental pause button" on dark thoughts as you become conscious of them, visualise the act of freezing these thoughts in their tracks in order to stop them growing in magnitude. Give your mind a break and allow yourself to be still, and simply dwell in the moment, focusing on all that the moment has to offer.
4. "Let the silence do the talking." When it comes to quieting the mind, and filing the heart, less is more, do not try to fill the voids, practice sitting in the discomfort of your quiet spaces and listening to the insight that comes. When you listen you will hear the voice that will tell you how to find your hearts passion and joy.
5. "One person at a time” is how the most meaningful personal impacts are made. The ripple effect of genuinely connecting with one person at a time will have a far greater reach than approaching life or work with a win-at-all-costs mindset. Such a mindset eases the internal pressure to succeed and enables you to remain present within, and enjoy each of the moments that make up the journey.
6. "Open your heart and your door to others." When we become too busy in our thoughts and actions to connect with the people who make up our community, we immediately begin to miss the opportunities that come as a result of the mental, emotional, and spiritual exchanges that take place when we take the time to really connect.
7. "Give freely." There is both joy, and abundance in the art of giving. The simple act of giving from the heart - without thought, agenda or expectation - is one of life's greatest pleasures and opens the door for others to do the same.
8. "Take time to breathe." Breathing is not only essential to our survival it also has the singular power to change our perception of a situation from one moment to another. Focusing on your breath in times of stress helps diffuse the adrenalin and provides the opportunity to see the situation for what it is.
9. "Allow others to do the talking for both of you." If silence is golden, listening is priceless. Really listening helps us get outside of our own heads and immediately shifts our self-focus, allowing us to look beyond ourselves to understand the beliefs, perceptions, and motivations of others. It is amazing what you learn when you stop talking and start listening - both to yourself and others!
10. "Never forget to laugh." Laughter is nature's best medicine and an excellent way to quiet the mind and ignite the soul. Furthermore, laughter is contagious; it feels great, and can light up even the darkest of days. When we feel happy and bright, we are better able to lead with our hearts and share our light with the world.