Here’s a confession: many years ago, I sent an email to a CEO I was coaching. It was late at night. I had been working for hours honing the detailed 360 feedback I had received about her down to a succinct, anonymised, document, using a few non-attributable quotes. In one press of the button the document winged its way into her inbox as an email attachment. Only it was the wrong attachment. I had, in error, attached an early version, names included, not the finely crafted document I had taken such care to produce. Imagine my shock when I came back to my desk the next morning to find a distressed email from her.
Even now I can recall the mortification I felt on realising what I had done. But, thanks to mindfulness, I can today observe my discomfort as it passes through my mind and emotions, and not feel so identified with it. I can reflect on my learning. Ever since that incident, almost every time I have completed an email of any significance, I have taken a moment to stop, breathe, remember who and where I am and contemplate the impact of what I am about to send upon the person who will receive it. Often, this pause has guided me to change what I was about to do: I decide not to send the communication yet, but to sleep on it; or I make changes to my email and/or check I have attached the correct version of a file.
The cumulative effect of this mindfulness practice over the years has probably saved weeks of effort, not to mention considerable emotional tribulation. And the times I forget the practice serve as an equally useful reminder, because the resulting communication might cause unnecessary confusion, which then has to be cleared up. Seeing this, I have also extended mindfulness into other areas. When working mindfully, I notice that I get the same amount of work done, to a higher standard, in less time, than when I work mind-lessly.
Mindfulness has been shown to be good for health, good for relationships and good for business. It’s simple to learn, low cost and rests mainly on your own commitment to your own effectiveness and well-being: few interventions could be cheaper, more sustainable or more widely applicable.
Be warned, though: mindfulness is a tough teacher. Simple does not mean easy! It is helpful to have someone guiding and encouraging you until you have established your practice, and somewhere to go for support when it goes awry.
If you want personal support for yourself, for your team or for your business in order to embark upon – or embed – mindfulness in your company, we’re here to help. The Equality Academy offers inputs on practical techniques of mindfulness for the workplace, from taster sessions to 1-2-1 coaching to extended workshops.