As my company continues to grow in scale, and as we work with entrepreneurs doing the same, I have realized that personal stress levels can get in the way of success and overall happiness. I’ve found that when entrepreneurs make and invest time for themselves and their health, it pays great dividends.
The remainder of this Insights article was contributed by Jessica Ahlum, Mindfulness Coach and CEO/Founder of Health Impacts.
Ron works hard. He gets what he wants. As the leader of a small but growing organization he had to jump in to sales role.
This is where his confidence cracked.
He was having a difficult time rebounding after challenging sales calls. Given this was the first time he had ever really faced rejection, he found himself losing sleep, being short with his kids and taking his wife for granted. He didn’t like who he was becoming and decided to take action to manage his stress. He increased his days in the gym hoping he could sweat it out. He even joined a sales meet-up to learn insider tips for negotiating his way into the minds and hearts of his customers. Nothing seemed to help… until he explored mindfulness.
Mindfulness, at its core, is the ability to stay in the present moment without fixating on the past or future. This prevents us from getting hooked by the super-highway of ever-changing thoughts and emotions that race through our minds. Mindfulness as a concept is spreading throughout the corporate landscape as a method for improving productivity and agile thinking.
But how can this ancient wisdom be applied in modern workplace settings?
As a mindfulness coach and founder of Health Impacts, I know how powerful mindfulness is. I have supported hundreds of people in finding the calm in the storm of life through education, group facilitation, and one-on-one coaching. Mindfulness has served as a tool for personal developmental as well; there’s no better way to support others than to say “I understand. I was there once too.”
When Ron walked through my door, I shared my two-part approach to mindfulness. The foundation is to develop a formal practice of stillness - be it five minutes or 35 minutes. What matters is the commitment to stop the business of life and observe the thoughts, emotions and physical sensations occurring within us. This can feel impossible or pointless to begin, but like anything new, it becomes easier with time and gives us an almost instant “reset.” This practice helps us to manage stress, and that’s what most people are really looking to accomplish.
I have found that, for maximum benefit in day-to-day life, the formal practice of mindfulness must be coupled with an active application of seven principles: beginner’s mind; non-judging; non-striving; patience; acceptance; letting go; and trust. In order to call these skills into play when needed, we have to cultivate self-awareness, which is shaped in the formal practice.
Once Ron understood the two angles we would use to reshape his experience of stress, we created an “if-then” plan for an event he anticipated would be highly triggering - getting off of a rejecting sales call. This was a place to experiment with mindfulness in real life.
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