Tuesday, May 27, 2014

To Celebrate the 1100th Blog: The Practice of Mindfulness

A mind is like a parachute, it works best when it’s open in the right way! 

Business and the world become over-complex and interdependent. From leadership and talent management perspective, are mindful leaders or workers nature or nurtured? How do human beings think? Where do you draw the line about which aspect of human activity is thought and which is mere reflex? How do you differentiate between well thought-out reflex and simple physiological reflex? What is the philosophy of mindfulness anyway?

Every person has degrees of both open and closed mindsets in different contexts. Only open mind in the positive and progressive way can push the human world forward. The mind is much more than an active brain. The brain is the hardware and the mind is the totality in action, hardware plus software. The mind is probably not brain in action alone. It may also be a whole-body phenomenon, with inputs from the environment as well. The brain is like the hands that make the bread, the mind has the knowledge of how to do it. The brain belongs to the body, the mind connected to the heart, the character, and the soul.

Everyone is born with a clean state of mindWe learn our beliefs in the life voyage. Most beliefs are learned and ingrained in our minds at a very young age. Unfortunately, these learned beliefs are oftentimes limiting cognition. Our beliefs are developed from what we see, hear and experience through the books or media we follow or the education we accept. In addition, some of these beliefs or perceptions are developed from the superficial understanding and misinterpretation of what we see, hear and experience. The question of perception also raises its own conundrum! Is perception not a product of the mind? Too often, people operate on auto-pilot, with their thoughts, emotions, and decisions coming from a subconscious level - accurate or not. Thus, the mindful digital leaders or workforce have to unlearn and relearn all the time to shape the truly mindful beliefs and cognizance.

Knowledge is like spring, can satisfy the thirsty mind; but insight is the key to changing mindsets. You have to start with creating an awareness of the need for change. Change the game is the mindset. In a company setting, that would mean identifying, agreeing and communicating the vision. Thereafter, identify the behaviors and hence mindsets required to pursue it. Next, do an inventory of the current status to show the difference between 'as-is' and 'to-be' to determine the required changes. Following this, implement training, coaching, mentoring is necessary to begin the change. Next step is to positively embed the change in favor of the new behaviors required. Good communication and feedback are essential throughout the process - if people don't regularly see the reason for changes, they will revert to type.

Creative mindfulness takes whole brain thinkingThe brain is flexible. What has happened in the transition from a pictorial knowledge only to a combination of pictures and words? Such examples are about technologically innovative thinking from the renaissance period. Being able to hold two opposites as both true is always the start of really creative possibilities; think fast (intuition) and think slow (analysis) are the other example to show brain’s capacity, capability, and resilience.

It takes time and focus on thinking deeperAnd today's leaders must be the great thinker, to think critically, creatively, independently and systematically. Thinking, like bonding with humans, takes time and focus. To save time by not having to think about everything we do, we learn automatic responses to given situations. Psychologists refer to these learned programs as "fixed- action patterns". Until we force people out of the patterns which have worked for them, they will continue to use the same patterns with as little thought as necessary. Further, for today's digital workplace equipped with multi-devices and digital workforce with multitasking on hand, though knowledge can be only a few clicks away, thinking would take better discipline and concentration. Statistically, multitasking can reduce productivity by approximately 40-percent according to some researchers. Switching from one task to another makes it difficult to tune out distractions and can cause mental blocks that can slow down your progress in fact.

We all work in progress, learning, growing, and changing in practicing mindfulness. It is an incremental and long process. So, you are not likely to see changes overnight. But that’s the worthy effort and first things first in shaping the mindful and capable digital leadership, creative and productive workforce for the radical digital transformation. Let's open mind in the positive and progressive way!


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