I want to share a personal story with you, one that I hope sparks a desire within you to become aware of the judgments you make, personally and professionally, intentional or not. And furthermore, act on that desire to challenge the way you think.
My heart exploded yesterday as I was snapping some family photos after a morning of autumn rain. Everything was sparkling, the air smelt fresh and my family of five were all hanging around doing our own thing when I looked up and spied my glorious, strapping, kind and tall son, Alex, leading his pony, Pepper, along the drive to her new grazing paddock. It seems sometimes the grass is greener.
There was a reason this image captured my attention. The day before, I attended a small gathering of parents and children. A new acquaintance asked ‘How old is that kid? He’s a monster’. I politely let them know that the “monster” was mine. He was nine and just like the other boys at the party, in year 4.
I don’t think for a second the question was asked out of malice or meant to upset, but rather a slip of the tongue. Alex is tall – at 9 1/2 years old he stands at nearly 5 foot and receives a lot of attention from it. It does surprise some people, but to voice such an inquiry that way…well, it took some internal gathering by me.
As business leaders, and possibly parents, it would come as no surprise to you that workplace culture comes from you – what you say and how you treat people is reflected in the actions and conversations around your organisation and your dinner table. Standards come from the top and I honestly believe if we all practice a little more considered mindful conversation, there would be less judgment and more acceptance in the world.
Mindfulness is a practice that develops over time and requires the integration of a number of themes that assist you to pay attention on purpose, and without judgement to the unfolding environment:
- Attention to ensure we are aware, of self and others
- Automatic behaviour that stops us from changing and growing as individuals
- Judgements that creates immediate conflict, intentional or not
- Acceptance to allow the ego to be silent
- Compassion to reduce the separation between others and allows us to see the similarities to truly connect
This approach is just a start. Mindfulness is not something you achieve after reading a book or an article on the topic. Realising you cannot become mindful, you can only be mindful is a great place to start your journey.
Research has consistently shown that to be mindful is an important predictor of wellbeing, high levels of life satisfaction and competence, while also associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety.
Mindfulness is more than a strategy to manage difficult situations. I relied heavily on my developing practice to calmly fess up to ‘owning the monster.’ Being mindful is a way of being and living, not a tactic or strategy to activate on ad-hoc demand.
Mindfulness is a way of dealing with and perceiving reality and provide insights. Mindfulness is about balance.
I am extremely glad Alex didn’t hear this question. As usual, he was preoccupied with eating enough food to feed a small man.
And for now, I will continue to deliver Mindful Me to workplaces across the country, if for nothing else but for attendees to ask themselves “What could happen if I became aware of the judgments I make?”