I was in a yoga class recently, and the instructor shared a quote from the Buddha. “When the mind is quiet, the Universe surrenders.” It stayed with me.
I see it in my clients. I see it in my colleagues, family members, and friends. I see it in myself. The racing mind – listing, remembering, judging, guessing, second-guessing, criticizing, evaluating. It seems like a never-ending dialogue – or monologue – in my brain. It seems that it gets in my way.
I stayed with the quote as I moved through my poses, and pondered what a quieter mind might bring to my life and my leadership. It was easy to see that I could benefit from a bit of internal silence. It was also easy to see that my internal silence would probably also benefit the people around me.
Because much of what our mind does – the remembering, evaluating, deciding, pondering – much of it is helpful and even necessary to live and lead effectively. But much of it can also limit our leadership, especially if it never stops. My bouncing mind restricts my ability to see things clearly. It can put me in a reactive frame of mind.
I suggest to nearly all of my clients that they add time for reflection into their days and weeks. “You need to give yourself space and quiet, away from the office, so that you can be clear-minded,” I offer. I share the story of a client who chose to stop by the cemetery on his way to work, for a bit of space.
This reflective time includes time spent thinking things through – looking at the big picture, developing a vision for the future, stepping away from the minute-to-minute distractions and issues that seem to fill our days. And this reflective time most likely also needs to include a bit of silence and space. Because it is this space that also allows us to return to our work clearer and surer. To see what we might be missing. This space allows our minds to offer us solutions to the problems we can’t seem to solve on our own.
It seems, at times, too difficult to quiet our minds, but it doesn’t have to be onerous and it doesn’t have to be a big deal. A few moments of simply focusing on your breath – consciously noting the in and out flow – can quiet your mind, as can twenty – or five – minutes of meditation. A pause before you walk into the next meeting, answer the next email, or start the next conversation. These brief interruptions in our daily rush allow our mind to quiet and be at peace.
Thoughtful leadership requires, at times, a quiet mind. A mind that is open to wonder and answers. Even if we stop for just a few minutes to breathe, and then move on, these few minutes of quiet can yield great benefits.
How do you quiet your mind and what have you gotten from it?
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