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Mindful : August 2016
How did you get to where you are? I used to be a 21st-century juggler: Happily married, a mother of school- aged children, a vice president and deputy general counsel of a Fortune 200 company—General Mills—presi- dent of the board of a large nonprofit, and a daughter of aging parents. Then GMI asked me to lead their acquisi- tion of Pillsbury. Suddenly, I had to put another significant ball into play, and this would become the deal from hell—almost 18 months of 12-14 -hour days, day in and day out. Nor was the stress alleviated when a Pillsbury VP mentioned that if I weren’t able to close the deal, some 10,000 Pillsbury employees could lose their jobs. I can only imagine the pressure. It got worse. A month or so after that conversation, my mother, who’d been ill, passed away, and my father died unexpectedly soon after. The loss, on top of the unending FINDING THE TIME TO PAUSE stress, sapped my resiliency. I felt like I’d hit a brick wall. Even after the deal went through, I struggled with sleep problems. I couldn’t bounce back. Around then a physician friend rec- ommended I go to a spa that included a training of the mind taught by Jon Kabat-Zinn. That six-day event was one of the 10 hardest things I’ve done in my life, but it was the beginning of my exposure to mindfulness. I became a closet meditator for a num- ber of years. How’d that lead to leadership training? A real love of mine is the development of leadership excellence, and I started to see the impact that mindfulness training could have on the ways we develop leaders. I began to notice opportunities where this training could make a huge difference in the lives of friends and colleagues at GMI and in the decisions being made. That led to my putting together the first mindful leadership retreat at General Mills in 2006, but the demand for this type of work was so high that it needed its own nonprofit, and by the end of 2010 I left GMI to found the Institute for Mindful Leadership. Janice Marturano, the executive director of the Institute for Mindful Leadership, recently stepped away from her busy schedule to talk to Mindful about what leaders and employees—all of us, in fact—can do to find the space to become our best selves. Tell us about what the IML does. Our clients lead busy, high-pres- sure lives. They ask us to help their employees learn to live and lead with excellence. In many organizations today employees are so overbooked and distracted that they find them- selves doing their jobs on autopilot. Or they run flat out every day until they become physically, mentally, and psychologically depleted. Our training offers a way for them to make choices that are what I call the win-win-win: good for the organization, good for employees, good for the big picture. And they can make that happen, how? By finding the space to do it. At the Institute, we believe that each of us has the capacity to lead with excel- lence. We’re all leaders. IML helps people find the space in their lives to become better. A Purposeful Pause, for example, is a useful tool to help you become your best self, but you need to have a practice that makes that pause possible and meaningful. What challenges do new leaders face? It’s no longer enough to rely on our predecessors. There’s no playbook to turn to. The business, social, and environmental crises we face demand a different type of leadership, one that cultivates focus, compassion, clarity, and creativity—a leadership that rec- ognizes the importance of ethics and social responsibility. Interview by Teo Furtado August 2016 mindful 43