Colleen's article was published in Classycareergirl.com. A leading site for loving work and life!
Are you feeling like you never have enough time in your day and you’re running around and not quite sure what you need to focus on?
One solution that is gaining a lot of attention in the press is mindfulness. Forbes, 60 Minutes, Fast Company, Inc. and others are all writing about it. Doctors, CEO’s, Sports Professionals, including Phil Jackson, the Coach of the NY Knicks, Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks and Tim Ryan, a Senator from Ohio, are all taking time out of their day to be mindful.
Mindfulness is a focused awareness on the present moment. It offers you the space within your mind to think more clearly plus the ability to respond to a situation versus react to it. As Arianna Huffington states, “Mindfulness is an essential part of being more effective and satisfied in work and life.”
The more you can discover and practice being mindful – the more benefits you can enjoy in our health, work, and overall well-being. Plus it is known to keep your brain young as well. According to research, the brains of those who practice mindfulness shows an increase in gray matter. Gray matter in your brain is a layer of tissue responsible for cognition and memory storage.
Scientists also know from a physical and mental well-being, practicing mindfulness can reduce heart disease, stress and even improve your immune system.
How do you become more mindful and present in your day to have more time and focus? To feel less stressed and happier?
Below are a few steps you can take to find balance and focus both on your work and your life.
1. Take a Focus Break. Take a “45-second focus break” throughout your day. Considering there are 1,440 minutes in a 24-hour period, a 45-second break really isn’t a lot of missed time. Try taking a deep breath and focusing on yourself as you walk to a meeting, before you pick up the phone or start a new project. The 45 seconds of focus in between meetings or projects will give you a little bit of space to think more clearly and approach a situation with a fresh perspective. Try a “focus break” every 2-3 hours.
2. Listen with Intent. When someone is speaking to you, whether it is your child or a co-worker, listen fully and focus on just that conversation. Give them your full attention. When you listen to someone fully, you learn new things and show more empathy and care for others. Listening builds trust, communication and focus.
3. Get Clear. When you are confronted with a situation that may not be favorable to respond, do your best to not react too quickly. Take one second to think about how you want to respond instead. When you practice mindfulness, you become more aware of the situation and view things differently. It gives you one second to not get emotionally wrapped up in something and instead gives you the ability to respond in a thoughtful, caring manner.
4. Be Grateful. When you are thankful and appreciate both the little and big things in life, your world opens up to new possibilities. According to a research study from Baylor University, gratitude can improve your health, relationships, energy and patience towards others. It can even make you happier. Start a gratitude journal and each day, write 3 things that you are grateful for.
5. Be Compassionate. According to research at Berkeley, when you practice mindfulness, you become more compassionate to yourself and others. With mindfulness, our “awareness” of what is happening becomes more compassionate and kind. This helps us see and respond more appropriately to a situation or individual.
6. Gain Confidence. Believe in yourself and know that you are worthy and capable of whatever you want to achieve. Build your self-confidence by recognizing what you are good at. Look at your failures as learning experiences and not something negative. Research shows that once you believe in yourself, you actually embody it.
Mindfulness is a fantastic foundation for a successful career and life. Practicing mindfulness is at the core of who you are. It requires practice but the benefits are plentiful and worth it.
It is no secret that communication is the key to one's success. The most important element of effective communication is not what you are saying but how you engage others and make them feel. True leaders know the art of communicating and are able to influence others and show that they care.
Following are 7 important and easy communication tips of great leaders.
Listen Deeply. Listen with feeling. Listening is one of the most important elements of communication. When you listen deeply, you go beyond the surface and listen with understanding. It is the first step in making a connection. When you don't speak and are mindful of what others are saying, you hear things at a different level. Their message becomes more clear and is not clouded by your thoughts. The next time you are in a conversation, challenge yourself to not talk for one minute, just listen to what the other person is saying. You will be surprised by what you learn.
Less is More. Make conversations meaningful and significant. Most people like to hear themselves talk but a leader knows that what they are saying isn't as important as what the other person is learning and feeling.
Clear with Direction. Focus on being clear and concise. But also know where you want to take your listeners and how you want to make them feel. Your audience will relate and remember what you are saying when you weave a story into your message.
Positive and Show Appreciation. Leaders need to communicate with inspiration and empower their teams to grow. When you see potential within people and are positive in nature, you develop individuals into leaders. There are times when you need to deliver a message that is not positive. In that case, deliver the news with care and appreciation versus fear and judgement.
Ask Questions When you take the time to be curious and understand what is important to others, you start a dialogue instead of a lecture. Asking questions, opens the conversation to new ideas and growth.
Be Confident. When you are confident you are more believable. Remember the power pose by Amy Cuddy. You have to believe in yourself before others believe in you. Tell yourself that you can do it.
Make a Connection. Remember body language represents 55% of communication. When leaders communicate with body language, their stance is open, they are expressive in their movements and use eye contact. Try it and see what happens. When you speak to someone with your arms folded, see how it makes you feel. You are withdrawn and closed off. But when you unfold your arms, you are open to receiving and are more inviting. Try it with your eyes. Watch what happens when two people make eye contact. You often can see what they are feeling.
There are many qualities that make a exceptional leader but when you start with the basics of communication you set the foundation for growth in people and organizations. Communication is not about YOU, but fulfilling a need and adding value to your listeners. How do you rate your communication skills? Do you do at least 3 of the above? Thank you for reading and please leave a comment.
Employee engagement has been proven to be a strong predictor for business success. A reason, companies are paying more attention to how to improve engagement. Recent studies from Gallup show that engagement slightly increased in March 2016 to 34.1%. Up from 32% in 2015 and 31.5% in 2014.
With Gen Y's and Millennials, the majority of the workforce, companies need to raise the bar in how they look at it. Engagement is often one of the deciding factors in whether an employee stays with a company or chooses to leave. Employees today want to feel valued and have purpose in their job. No longer are employees staying with companies due to loyalty. But instead, because they know and believe in the "why" they are doing the job and how they are contributing to the organization.
Most of us learn from watching what others are doing and adding our own spin to it. What are the leading companies that rate high in employee engagement doing?
Making engagement a priority. Engagement has to start from the top. True leaders are not chosen based on their skills alone, but their ability to manage and build relationships across the organization. When it comes to engagement, leaders need to be involved, committed and communicate their mission and purpose.
Clarifying work duties. Employees want to have a purpose and feel that what they are doing is making a difference in the organization. Yes, the fun perks are an added benefit for employees, but when an employee feels as if they bring value and their skills are appreciated, employees become more engaged.
Creating a culture. When engagement is weaved into a manager's performance expectations, they realize the importance the role of engagement plays. They feel empowered and can execute on what needs to be done. Working together with employees, leaders can identify roadblocks and opportunities for growth. An engaged culture includes acting on what needs to change, follow up and always making engagement a priority.
Open communication. Communication is essential in employee engagement. Whether it is at team meetings or one on one meetings, managers need to communicate and share best practices and offer feedback. When managers and employees communicate and listen to each other. They act as a team, learning and growing together.
Building Relationships. When employees are treated as individuals and not just as employees, it creates a positive atmosphere. Managers need to go beyond just knowing who their employees are, but understanding who they are and what makes them tick. Knowing your employees talents, beliefs, experiences and goals will drive performance and success.
Hiring and Coaching Managers. Look closely at who you are hiring and who is being promoted. Promotions are often given to the wrong person for the wrong reason. And not to the employee who will make a difference and knows how to manage people. Considering people are your best asset in a company, leaders need to make managing and caring for their employees a priority. Coaching managers and emerging leaders will spotlight people development and management skills.
Who are some of the top companies that are noted for excellent employee engagement? Achievers nominated 50 companies that were leading the way in engaging employees and making their workplaces more productive. These companies were honored with "Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplace Awards". The criteria included communication, leadership, culture, vision and values, rewards and recognition, corporate social responsibility, performance, and professional and personal development. One of the companies awarded was Cargill. They were recognized as "going beyond just employee surveys but continually pushing themselves to include community involvement and engagement in the hearts and minds of its employees." CBRE was also recognized as it creates "a workplace environment that promotes creativity, collaboration and integrates and encourages a healthy work/life balance." Other companies awarded included Autotrader, CISCO service platform group, Humana, KPMG, Tata and Zappos.
As leaders of companies, you need to ask yourself. Why not go the extra mile and make employee engagement a priority? Why contribute to the staggering $350 billion dollars lost in productivity with disengaged workers?
But rather, strive to increase the 34.1% of engaged employees, each month beyond March. Remember engagement is not rocket science but putting a flashlight on the obvious. Engagement occurs when employees know the mission, are treated as individuals, relationships are built, learning and development exists and yes, a little bit of fun is present. When companies realize that their bottom line is being affected by employee engagement, more companies will make it a priority.