Hello 2020! A renewed sense of optimism inevitably accompanies a new year. An opportunity to begin anew as we set our goals and resolutions (or as I like to call them, our intentions) – with our physical health usually topping the list. However, taking care of our mental and emotional health is just as important as it impacts our ability to handle stress, collaborate with others, be creative, enjoy professional success, and live a life of joy.
In the most recent Successful Culture Intl. podcast, we had the pleasure of speaking with meditation guru, Kira Leskew – a serial entrepreneur running her 7th company, The Eagle Institute, which trains people on skills that help them mentally, physically, and emotionally using techniques drawn from meditation. Meditation and mindfulness are not just buzz words in today’s society. They are proven strategies to help us combat the internal and external stressors we face daily.
Stress hurts us physically, mentally, and emotionally in many facets of our lives:
- We’re less effective. When stressed, it can take up to 50% longer for us to complete a task.
- Our physical health suffers. Stress is linked to chronic illnesses such as depression, memory impairment, and cardiovascular issues such as heart attacks and strokes. Chronic stress is one of the major health crises of our time – but thankfully, the relationship between stress and being able to reduce it through mindfulness and other meditation techniques is very strong.
- Relationships suffer. Our relationships suffer when we are stressed, which compounds our stress over time.
As organizational leaders, practicing mindfulness through a specific set of meditation-oriented techniques increases our ability to effectively handle stressful situations. We are able to reduce stress, communicate with empathy and compassion, increase our emotional intelligence, and respond – rather than react – in difficult situations.
In addition to our own practice, an organization’s culture should support the inclusion of meditation and mindfulness practices for all – allowing employees to practice in real-time, when they need it. According to Kira, for a culture to truly support this initiative, a few things must happen:
- Leadership must lead the way. If those at the top have not at least tried meditation on their own, it’s very difficult to get the rest of the organization on board.
- Education is key. Mindfulness means different things to different people and meditation practices are rooted in Buddhist theory. If a company decides to promote these practices, they need to educate employees on what they are, why they are doing it, and what the benefits are (what’s in it for them).
- Encourage meditation on the job. 25% of Fortune 500 American companies have regular in-house meditation programs. Providing access, resources and time for employees to practice will help ground it into your culture.
Our world of work has evolved significantly over the last century. Many jobs have transitioned from physical labor to more mental and emotional labor. This type of work (and our addiction to technology) is very mentally taxing. We are bombarded constantly with pings and notifications. For example, the average person is interrupted at least every 11 minutes, which can put the mind into fight or flight mode, resulting in stress. Meditation and mindfulness techniques can bring us back to the here and now with a calm, centered mind.
Meditation takes time. Be patient with yourself, it’s okay for your mind to wonder (that’s what it’s designed to do!). If you are committed, the small changes you make today will add up over time – transforming you for the better.
Want to hear more from our discussion with Kira Leskew? Subscribe to our weekly podcasts HERE and feel free to visit our website at https://www.successfulculture.com/ to learn more about how to create and strengthen your most valuable strategic asset, your culture.