Mindfulness and Yoga are not for the meek

US_Army_53584_BAGHDAD_-_Capt._Robert_Magill,_the_provost_marshal_office's_long-range_planner,_from_Killeen,_Texas,_does_yoga_exercises_here,_Oct._17,_as_part_of_additional_physical_training_through_a_structured_vid (1)Neuroscience research over the last 10 years has brought to light the positive and lasting effects of mindfulness on mind, body and emotional response.

“A few hours of meditation can change the epigenetics of our brain,” says cognition scientist Richard Davidson.

Brain’s ability to rewire itself in relation to changes in behavior, environment and thinking patterns—or brain plasticity—is heavily impacted by mindfulness practices. Simultaneously, the discovery of the enteric nervous system (or the brain in the gut) has given an entirely new meaning to the mind/body relationship, shedding light on the mechanism by which mind wellbeing positively impacts the body and vice versa.

Business leaders seem to be catching on.

CEOs Mark Bertolini of Aetna and Jeff Weiner of Linkedin swear by the positive impact of yoga and mindfulness on themselves and their organizations. Programs like Google’s “Search Inside Yourself” are sprouting in and out of Silicon Valley. Global gatherings like Wisdom 2.0 are bringing senior executives from the high tech world together with wisdom teachers. Mindfulness is trending up in the Swiss Alps of Davos at the World Economic ForumHarvard Business Review backs the hype with hard science in the recently published article, “Mindfulness Can Literally Change Your Brain.”

Yet, despite all of the above, the mainstream business culture still lingers in a feeling of unease about yoga and mindfulness.

Based on my own leadership experience, I suspect this feeling has roots in a common bias that paints wisdom practices for the meek. I still remember the quizzical stares I was getting from my team when I openly started practicing yoga and meditation on business trips and at corporate events. Eventually that initial reaction melted away when the realization dawned on everyone that the odd stuff I was doing wasn’t making me a weaker leader—actually, quite the opposite. The excellent top and bottom line numbers generated over a streak of four years were only matched by the increase in passion, engagement and accountability from the team.

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Leading from a place of being. A journey in personal mastery.

Through the course of our careers, no matter our title or hierarchical standing in the organization we belong to, we all have plenty of chances to exercise leadership. And likely all of us have personally experienced the wild diversity between inspiring and inept leaders. The former creating a motivating, efficient landscape, while the latter spirals entire teams into complete dysfunction.

It all comes doIMG_2918wn to choice.Bad leaders make reactive, unconscious choices for which they seldom take responsibility. Good leaders make proactive, conscious choices for which they take full ownership.

As human beings, it is ultimately in our power to choose what we allow through our energetic gates. It is our responsibility as leaders to choose carefully what draws our attention, for where our attention goes our energy goes, and allocation of scarce resources along with it. Continue reading

Want to be more productive and inspire others?

What do you do after you wake up in the morning, get out of bed and brush your teeth?

Do you go check your email box? Perhaps you’ve done it
already because the iPhone lies next to you. What’s the status of your Twitter, FB, Pinterest, Google+? Any inquiry on your personal website? Has anyone contributed to your blog? How many voice mails do you have? What’s the latest news feed from CNN, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNN Money? How did the financial markets open?

How about multitasking and doing all of the above while drinking coffee and fretting over breakfast? If that’s the case for you, as it seems common for the majority of us, we abruptly feed our minds with a broad range of stimuli, input, and information. Continue reading