Tied, overwhelmed and plagued with uncertainty! So how can you perform at your best?

Tied, overwhelmed and plagued with uncertainty! So how can you perform at your best?

“What state are you in when you perform at your best as a leader?”

I first came across this powerful question in Michael Buntings brilliant book; The Mindful Leader. If you haven’t read it I’d highly recommend it.

We intuitively know the answer to this even if we haven’t thought about it before.

We know that we are most likely to do our best work when we are well rested and full of energy rather than feeling out of sorts or sleep deprived.

We respond best when we are calm rather than flustered or overwhelmed.

We achieve our best results when we are courageous, open and supported rather than fearful, closed and under attack

And we create the best outcomes when we have confidence in our abilities rather than experiencing uncertainty or we are out of our depth.

Simple really! So when was the last time you focused on preparing yourself for high performance?

In his book, Michael Bunting encourages us to “deliberately cultivate a state of wellness and be a beacon of goodness, responsiveness and clarity even in the toughest circumstances.”

The more I think about this the more obvious it seems.

Elite athletes follow this practice – so why wouldn’t we? They know that to perform at their peak they need to take care of their mind, body and soul.

They train hard, fuel their bodies with the right nutrition, incorporate periods of rest and recovery and more and more they are placing their trust in the power of meditation and mindfulness.

The winning team of the 2018 AFL Grand Final – Richmond, attributed some of their rapid rise to the ultimate goal to the introduction of a daily mindfulness practice.

So if we know that these are the ingredients for high performance – then why are we not setting ourselves up for success? I think the simple answer is that we think we are too busy or that it really doesn’t make that much of a difference.

I now believe it makes all the difference!

Since introducing this concept to the ladies in my inner circle program – The Leadership Connection, they have told me that it’s one of the things that has made the biggest difference to them, not only professionally but also personally.

So what have they done that’s making such a big difference?

Here are 4 Keys to deliberately cultivate high performance.

1. Start well. How we start each day has a massive impact on our outcomes and our performance. It sets the foundation for our energy and focus. A chaotic, rushed start will often leave us feeling chaotic and rushed for the rest of the day.

Where ever possible create a routine that sets you up for the type of state that enhances your performance. This is likely to be a different for all of us but for me this includes a little exercise while listening to an educational podcast, a healthy breakfast and a review of my high priority action list.

I know that when I by pass this routine for a sleep in, both my mind and body feel sluggish, leaving it nigh on impossible for me to work as effectively or productively as I’d like.

2. Know what matters. This is all about clarity. Without clarity confusion reins and nothing good comes from a state of confusion.

Getting clear on what matters most to you, your team and the business allows you to prioritise and focus your time and energy. It keeps you on track and allows us to choose what requests to say yes to and which to say no to.

We can choose to be busy being busy, ticking off a to do list OR we can make time for the projects that really move the dial and get us seen and recognised for all we are capable of.

3. Slow down to speed up. This may seem counter intuitive but I believe we must all slow down a little.   (Me included!)

Rushing from meeting to meeting, checking emails and sending off quick messages to manage the latest disaster is not conducive for creative or strategic thinking. How often have you reacted to a situation in a way that only made it worse, during a time of busyness or stress.

Spending time planning is a worthy investment. As is creating what I call “white space;” that precious time in your calendar where you have NOTHING planned.

It could be as simple as blocking out time over lunch to get outside and breath. You might be surprised at how the answer to a problem you have been stewing over, suddenly seems so clear. 

4. Listen.   Building self awareness through listening is critical. Listening to you body, your thoughts and your emotions will all leave clues to what’s working and what’s not.

Aches and pains and recurring illness are often signs that something is out of alignment. There is significant research that demonstrates the link between our emotional and physical wellbeing.

So listen to your emotions. I recently spoke with a senior professional woman who expressed her frustration, having either cried or become angry on a number of occasions in the presence of senior leaders.   Not only was it unhelpful in the situation, she felt it undermined her authority and her position.

And listen to your thoughts. A persistent racing, chaotic mind or self defeating self talk will not support high performance.

So what will you do to deliberately cultivate a healthy physical, emotional and mental state? The simple decision to manage your internal world more effectively will create positive change in your external world.  Let’s make these small every day tweaks to improve how you perform as a leader.

LET'S CONNECT

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4 Ways Meditation Will Improve Your Leadership

4 Ways Meditation Will Improve Your Leadership

Is meditation the key to personal and professional success? Is it the gateway to our inner stability and true peace, love and happiness? Can learning to settle the mind bring you clarity, wisdom and give you what it takes to be an exceptional leader of people and business?

There is a growing body of evidence and high profile supporters to suggest that it is. It is no longer the realm of hippies, Buddhist monks and the enlightened few.

Everyone from Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and Hugh Jackman to Rupert Murdoch and Oprah are doing it and attributing their health, happiness and business success to the ancient art.

I am no expert and I am relevantly new to the magical world of meditation but I am however a convert.

The benefits to me are obvious. On the days I manage to calve out out some time (even as little as 10 minutes) to meditate I feel calmer, my mind is quieter and I feel more positive and alive.

The evolution of brain science particularly over the last 10 to 15 years has produced clear and exciting scientific evidence that demonstrates the plasticity of the brain. We now have proof, thanks to modern technology, that shows that meditation and the powerful state of “mindfulness” can reduce anxiety and worry, decrease negative thoughts and expand our thinking and productivity.

Here are 5 ways that meditation can have a positive impact on your effectiveness as a leader.  

Improved Focus and concentration

Focus and concentration is the foundation for productivity and getting great work done. With the increasing volume of work expected of us all, developing an ability to stay focused on a task while surrounded by the ever present interruptions from our smart phones, laptops and people generally wanting a piece of you, is key.

We can not increase the number of hours we have in the day to get stuff done but we can increase our ability to get more done in the time we have. As little as just 11 hours of meditation has shown to create structural changes in the part of the brain that is involved in maintaining our focus and concentration.

Creativity and Problem Solving

Have you ever tried to solve a problem when you feel stressed and overwhelmed? Most of us have! The noise and clutter that takes over our brain prevents clear thinking, snuffs out all creativity and often renders us incapable of any action, let alone the type of action that will have you seen as the exceptional leader that you truly are when you are at your best.

We make our most intelligent decisions when we are in some state of internal peace and calm. Research has found that meditation not only quietens the mind but also promotes the type of thinking that allows new and creative ideas to be generated.

Less Stress and Anxiety

In today’s fast paced, ever changing, always on corporate environment, chronic low grade stress and anxiety just seem part of the deal. But we never perform at our best when we are stressed and anxious.

Repeated studies have demonstrated that meditation can rewire how the brain responds to stress. It helps us to pay attention to the present moment, stay connected to our feelings and emotions and remain calm when faced with highly stressful situations.

Boost Social Connection and Empathy

Research has shown that social connection, empathy and compassion, all critical elements of communication and relationship building, are higher in those who practice meditation regularly. Mindfulness not only increases our self awareness, it also raises our awareness of the impact we have on other people feelings and emotions.

With the latest Gallop poll research revealing that less than a quarter of all Australians are actually fully engaged in their work, any leader who can be more present with their team and build high team engagement and effectiveness will be in high demand.

Thinking it might be worth giving meditation a go?

Now before you think that you need to head to India to an ashram to learn to meditate then think again. Even just committing to a few minutes of quite time where you get present to your breath is a worthwhile start.

For me, I find following a recorded guided meditation works best. One free app I have found to be good is by Headspace or you might like to try the 21 day free course – Manifesting True Success with Oprah and Deepak starting on 16 March 2015.

Regardless what type of meditation you choose, committing to regular practise of mindfulness will help you to clear your mind of the noise, clutter and needless worries, nurture passion for your work and compassion for others, and develop the ability to empower the people in your organisation.

NEXT STEPS?

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LET'S CONNECT

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