NCET helps you explore business and technology
By Kevin Ciccotti
I frequently lead workshops on leadership for the client companies I work with. And each time I do, I have the pleasure of introducing many of them to one of the most important leadership tools I’ve discovered; one that has had immeasurable impact on my own life and leadership: Mindfulness.
Most of us have heard the term “mindfulness,” and some may even incorporate the concepts in their lives. Here is how I define mindfulness: being aware of our own inner experience (attuned to self), and paying attention to what is happening around us (attuned to others and the world around us) without being attached to any specific outcome.
Many people engage in daily mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga, or prayer. I first became aware of the impact of mindfulness and meditation when I embarked on my own journey of personal development many years ago. And, over the years I have become convinced that it is an indispensable addition to my personal and professional leadership.
When I engage in a daily practice of meditation, I find myself to be more peaceful, creative, emotionally centered, and able to handle difficult situations that may otherwise cause me to collapse into old patterns of anger, sadness, or isolation. But why is that?
One of the most important validations of the practice of meditation that I found is from a study conducted through Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital.
The study involved 16 subjects, over a total 8 weeks. Each participant was asked to meditate for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. (Participants later reported spending an average of 27 minutes per day in meditation.)
They each had MRIs done at the beginning and end of the study, and what scientists found was remarkable. After only 8 weeks they found that every one of the subjects showed a marked increase in the size of their hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.
Additionally, each participant showed a marked decrease in the size of their amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for fear, anxiety, stress, and anger. These people had literally changed the shape and structure of their brains through meditation.
When leaders incorporate mindfulness, hope, and compassion – especially with themselves – they increase their capacity for resilience. Resilience is that quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever.
Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after a misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook and can change course and soldier on. All critical qualities for leaders to have; and mindfulness practices can help develop them.
Kevin Ciccotti, Certified Professional Coach, is President of Human Factor Formula, Inc. and NCET’s VP of Membership, Biz Café. NCET is a member-supported nonprofit that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology.