When I was in Bermuda doing research, I had an opportunity to test my anthropological “participant observer” skills while learning how to become an observant member of a primate group without intruding on the lives of the stump-tailed macaques that made up that group.
The experience was not without missteps. On one occasion, one of the animals slipped up from behind me and pulled my hair! Did I remain conscious and in the moment? No. Regrettably, I screamed, alerting all 20 of the other members of the troop of macaques, frightening the little baby who had simply been curious about me, and losing a week’s worth of data when I was forced to use my clipboard and notes as a distraction while I ran to the safety of a small boat.
As unfortunate as this incident was, I learned that, as an anthropologist and ethnographic observer, one must listen to and understand what’s transpiring without indicating that anything the population is doing is either unprofessional, annoying or inappropriate.
Practicing mindful leadership and becoming a participant observer will prevent you from slipping into a life that pulls you away from your values.
We don’t use the word “practice” lightly. In order to gain awareness and clarity about the present moment, you must be able to quiet your mind. That is tremendously difficult and takes a lifetime of practice.
There are many ways you can work to improve mindfulness – meditation is one of them and while many CEOs and executives are embracing meditation, it’s not for everyone. The important thing is to have a set time each day to pull back from the intense pressures of leadership and reflect on what is happening. In addition to meditation, we know leaders who take time for daily journaling, prayer, and reflecting while walking, hiking or jogging.
Regardless of the daily introspective practice you choose, the pursuit of mindful leadership will help you achieve clarity about what is important to you and a deeper understanding of the world around you.
I used the above anecdote about y own unfortunate run-in with the monkey troop to illustrate how much I myself needed to be aware of my then-tendency to get out of the present moment. What about you? Can you recall an instant when you lost it and as a result lost something important you were involved with or working on?
Thanks for sharing.
For questions about this post or for information on becoming a fearless leader, contact Dr. Cathy Greenberg and The Fearless Leader Group at (888) 320-1299 or by email at email@example.com.