Does “mindfulness” have a place in business?

Mindfulness in business - businessman sitting on the desk and meditating with eyes closedAccording to Google, which offers employees a course on mindfulness meditation, and Lululemon, a company that keeps a Director of Mindfulness on staff, the answer is a resounding yes.

American scientist Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as simply “paying attention in a sustained and particular way – on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.”

Research has shown that practising mindful meditation can lead to reduced stress, lowered blood pressure, increased brain activity, and improved immune response. It’s also been shown to have measurable value for companies when their leaders and employees practice mindfulness, too.

Here are a few ways taking a more mindful approach to running your business can lead to greater success.

The power of positive thinking

A simple shift toward a more optimistic outlook can help increase receptivity and lead to more creative problem solving. In an article in the Harvard Business Review, emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goldman states that “pessimism narrows our focus.”

What if instead of coming quickly to “no”—or making decisions on auto pilot – your organisation spent more time considering “maybe”?

By staying open to possibility you may just notice a remarkable improvement in how innovative your small business can be.

Improve your culture

Entrepreneurs who are personally committed to self-improvement tend to nurture healthier, more desirable work environments in their businesses. This is absolutely vital to attracting top talent.

Research has shown that millennial workers are interested in work that creates positive change. They want more than a paycheck from a company; they want support for their personal and professional development as they strive to make a difference in the world.

In addition to attracting top talent, it’s been shown that a healthier, happier work environment results in a more motivated and productive team.

Enhanced leadership skills

Megan Reitz and Michael Chaskalson—professors at Hult International Business School—found that mindfulness training enhanced three leadership capabilities. Those capabilities include resilience, the capacity to collaborate, and the ability to lead in complex conditions.

Reitz and Chaskalson also discovered the key to more mindful leadership comes down to three crucial “meta-capacities”: meta-cognition, allowing, and curiosity.

Meta-cognition means being able to observe what you are thinking, feeling, and sensing with detachment. This helps you make better decisions;

Allowing is simply “letting be”. By approaching situations with openness, without judgement or criticism, you can see a situation for what it really is;

Curiosity is vital because it requires sustained interest and inquiry. This is a desire to deepen an awareness of the moment, sidestep assumptions, and “go deep”.

Reitz and Chaskalson found that with practice, leaders became more responsive than reactive in their decision making. And that difference led to valuable change for their organisations.

Final tips for mindfulness in business

In business a mindful approach can help you maintain active attention on what really matters in the moment. It also helps avoid reactive decisions that may not be in your company’s best interests.

Check out the Potential Project for some free online mindfulness training materials. These include a guided audio session, practice manual, and app.

If you’re ready to discover what greater mindfulness can do for your business, try practising mindfulness for ten minutes each day—and mind the results.