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Mindful : August 2013
8 mindful August 2013 What does mindful leader- ship look like? That’s what I won- dered as I traveled to upstate New York for a retreat led by Janice Mar turano. She’s the founder of the Institute for Mind- ful Leadership, and its slogan is “finding the space to lead.” At Mindful we’re trying to create an organization that does just that: leaves space for ideas and best practices to emerge. So I was intrigued to find out how this four-day retreat might inform my own role as a leader. The truth is, when the pres- sure’s on at work (or any other area of my life), I fall under an all-too familiar spell: the feel- ing that everything is urgent. And then when I’m operating at top speed, I’m dogged by the sense that I’m missing something important. It’s not ideal. In fact, it’s the opposite of spacious. But it’s the way the world seems to work, isn’t it? As leaders, we don’t just have to keep up, we need to speed ahead of the pack, right? So the idea of creating time and space to step back and gain perspective can often feel like a pipe dream. It sure felt like that as I and the other 16 leaders on the retreat reflected on our packed calendars. But as Janice guided us through a series of discussions, our thoughts meditations, and exercises, I began to feel once again what it’s like to slow down. I learned to really listen to the person seated across from me. And I noticed how much better I communicate when all that awareness is brought to bear. Thinking or talking about the advantages of slowing down and being more aware is one thing. It always sounds like a great idea. But by actually do- ing it—making the space, tak- ing a pause—I began to really understand what I’m missing when I don’t. I confess: I like to get things settled. I like crossing things off lists. But learning to pause and reflect on what’s happening inside of me, while taking note of what’s going on around me at any given moment, has me convinced. Whether I’m leading at work, with my family, or in my life in general, my decisions as a leader are only as good as the information I am open to receiving. I was a little off track, then, wondering what mindful leadership looks like—it’s how it feels that matters. And it’s not just good for the person doing the leading. Guaranteed: other people will notice—and benefit—too. —Tracy Picha, Editor