6 ways to master mindfulness in business leadership
blog post | news + business

6 ways to master mindfulness in business leadership

Marketers play an important role in society. We’re responsible for feeding content to the largest social conditioning engine in the world. We call it media. We do this every day. And people are constantly receiving and integrating our marketing messages into their lives.

We’re the founders of buzz. The creators of trends. The designers of experience. We are the greatest storytellers history has ever seen. But how seriously do we take that responsibility? Do we understand our true impact?

There’s a new tribe of marketing leaders on the scene. It’s a tribe that takes responsibility for its impact and has empowered itself with the tools of emotional intelligence, empathy, and perspective. This tribe is made up of people executing mindful business leadership. They’re leaders who care, leaders who are self-aware, leaders who serve a mission beyond themselves and inspire others to do the same.

This movement may be fueled by Gen Xers who are reaching mid-life, a time when people realize that the rat race to success often comes with a lot of burnout and unhappiness. They’re finally getting promoted into the most senior ranks and realizing that they have the opportunity to make an impact, but that they won’t be able to do it the old way. They want to slow down to do more.

All the while, our Millennial counterparts laugh at the thought of capturing success the way prior generations did. They came into the workforce demanding more time off, flexible schedules, remote work, and company-funded experiences. Some of them understand that slowing down is important, and they want to make an impact on something greater than themselves.

Here we are, right smack in the middle of two different leadership tribes within the same marketing teams. One knows how to get things done. The other believes it knows what to do. Together, they’re changing the way marketing will be done forever—and so can you. The first step? Be mindful.

Mindfulness definition

/?m?n(d)f(?)ln?s/, noun

a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

What is mindful leadership?

Mindful leadership definition

/?m?n(d)f(?)l/, lee-der-ship noun

a mental style of leadership and style of communication focusing awareness on the present moment and one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

Here are six ways you can use mindfulness to lead your marketing teams to success.

6 ways you can employ mindful business leadership

1. Get still—relax your mind

Try meditating. The point of meditation is for you to relax. Leaders who can’t relax are stressed. And stressed leaders aren’t objective leaders.

What happens when you are stressed? When you get triggered? How do you react?

Most of us are operating on stress hormones that quite literally place us into our most unevolved state. When we make decisions from here, we’re more likely to prefer emotion over logic.

This reaction is the result of all that worrying about the future and regretting the past—it fills our heads with a bunch of useless noise that makes it difficult to be objective. The best way to clear the mind is to get still—incredibly still.

Imagine that your body is a giant battery. Like every battery, it needs downtime to recharge. Meditation is an incredibly useful tool for slowing down and recharging. The best part is that there are no hard rules you have to follow to step onto the meditation bandwagon:

  • You can sit in complete stillness and allow your mind to witness and love whatever arises.
  • You can lay down and take in a fantastic dreamscape of healing music that takes your mind on a blissful adventure.
  • You can tap into the thousands of free guided meditations that allow you to simply follow the instructions and relax.
  • You can even go to a meditation studio and learn from experts.

If you can find your way to complete stillness with a completely clear mind, even better, just remember that meditation isn’t a job. You don’t go in and try to force your mind to clear itself. Instead, you simply relax and allow what is. Consider meditation a container for your thoughts and feelings. It’s the place you go to see whatever fills your mind with clarity and to feel whatever fills your heart fully.

Homework: Try these simple meditations

There’s never been a thought or emotion that has been too much for you, and there won’t be now. So why would we allow our fear of thinking and feeling to pump stress hormones through our body day in and day out? We won’t anymore.

Instead, spend at least 20 minutes a day in meditation, preferably immediately upon waking and immediately before bed. This tool is the most important thing you have for energy hygiene and mental clarity. Use it abundantly. These free guided meditations will help:

Mooji’s Journey into Complete Stillness

Sarah Blondin Short Meditations

2. Get zen—create a daily practice

Mindfulness is a bit of a misnomer. Mindfulness is designed to clear the mind rather than fill it.

We spend so much of our lives thinking about the past or projecting the future that we often forget to be here, right now. When you focus on the present, you can picture things more clearly and make more objective, fact-based decisions. When you’re mindful in a business meeting, you’re aware of how others in the room respond to you, which deepens the meaningfulness and responsiveness of your actions.

Compare that to people who are present physically yet absent otherwise—they’re on their phone or laptop, thinking about what they’ll have for lunch, where they’ll go with their family next weekend for vacation, the meeting that took place before this one, or a comment someone made about them a week ago. They aren’t paying attention to what’s happening now or what someone is saying now, so they might as well not even be there. Distracted people are less effective. Frankly, the past is gone, and the future isn’t here yet. So all you have is the present, and someone who isn’t mindful is wasting precious time.

Practicing mindfulness is simple. Wherever you are right now, soften your gaze. Rather than looking at the words, see the page. Expand your focus out to see the entire device you are reading this on and everything around you, all at once.

Now, close your eyes and expand your focus again. Remember the room and this time listen. What do you hear in front of you, to the right of you, to the left of you, behind you, above you, below you? Listen as you hold the picture of the room in your head. And once you have that fully within your awareness, what do you feel? Now, put it all together into one complete picture. Can you experience all of your senses at once? That will give you something to work on for a while.

This practice takes time to develop, but it’s effective at grounding you in the present. You can use this tool before beginning any creative work. It expands your focus and fills your body with a cocktail of neurochemicals that make ideas and words start flowing. Further, it’s as simple as training yourself to expand your focus wherever you are. Stop and smell the air, get out and be present with nature, be present with your kids. Before you know it, you’ll be able to sit through entire meetings without ever leaving your zen state. #getzen

Homework: Listen to these soundtracks to develop mindfulness

Simply play these soundtracks through headphones while working on a big project or even doing nothing. They aren’t overwhelming sounds. The complementary background combined with scientifically proven binaural sound frequencies help you find your zen state quickly:

One Mind 432 hz Soundscape

One Mind 528 hz Soundscape

3. Get woke—become aware of your consciousness

Get woke. Break out of the Matrix. Raise your self-awareness.

We are beyond the times of acting as mindless robots who fill orders from unscrupulous corporate executives. We’re smarter than that, and we can see the games played around us. We can look at ourselves in the mirror and see our reflection shining back at us. And if we don’t like what we see, we will change it.

Self-awareness is one of the strongest tools in a marketer’s arsenal. By looking within and understanding our human psyche through the lens of humility and grace, we’re better equipped to understand everyone around us. Human consciousness is a complex infrastructure that houses all of our belief systems. Here’s the truth: The messages we put into media channels program the human psyche with instructions on how to find balance and harmony within society.

What if we have been sharing strategies for happiness that don’t actually work? I believe we have.

What if neuroscience and psychology play a much larger role in marketing than we ever imagined? I believe they do. What if your marketing campaigns can help our society find its way to harmony? They can.

Understanding and taking accountability for our role in social conditioning is one of the greatest responsibilities any marketer can undertake. We’ve all seen the person on stage selling a remedy for happiness that is always some distance in the future, like a carrot dangling in front of us with the words “hard work” sprayed over it. Mindful marketers don’t dangle the carrot and place their happiness some distance in the future.

Homework: Raise self-awareness with these resources

Start journaling. Explore your truth and find the weeds that weigh heavy on your soul. Look at yourself in the mirror every day and fall in love with the person you see. When you see something, you struggle to love, love it more, not less. Every day, you can choose to be aware of your impact and to act with the highest bar for ethics and integrity. It starts with having integrity with yourself, and that means it’s time to really look in the mirror. Can you love who you see?

These podcasts will inspire you to dig deeper:

Aubrey Marcus Podcast

School of Greatness Podcast

4. Get clean—eat nutritious foods

There is a big difference between nutrition and what we market as food these days. If you want to have mental clarity, bounds of energy, and incredible gains in stamina, then you need to consider what you’re putting into your body. Our bodies consist of organic machinery that has clear needs to operate in an optimal state. Our bodies need nutrition. Yet what you find in the aisles of most grocery stores is processed foods and food substitutes that leave the body starving for proper nutrition.

Honor your body and start feeding it whole, nutritious foods. There are thousands of diets out there that claim to have the answer to your dream body. Leave them on the shelves where they belong. Getting clean is about understanding food and what your body needs to feel its best. Start by cooking whole foods that come from the ground and trees. Find whole protein sources like legumes, organic fish, and meats. If food is processed, it clogs up the system. If food is whole, it fuels the system.

Homework: Discover why you eat what you eat

Here’s a simple journal exercise that delivers epic returns. For many of us, food uncovers a mysterious love-hate relationship with ourselves. The truth is that we know what to eat. What we need to understand is why we eat what we eat. Are you an emotional eater? A stress eater? A trauma eater? An avoidance eater? The list goes on and on.

Look at yourself and ask: When do I reach for food? When I’m hungry? When I’m angry? When I’m sad? When I’m glad? Then ask: What do I eat when I’m in each of those states? Is it real food or some processed alternative? Understanding and balancing your relationship with food will help stabilize your hormones and energy and give you a new zest for life. That’s the beauty of nutrition.

Create a food journal for a week. Write down the times you eat, what you eat, and how you felt before, during, and after you ate. What you need to eliminate will be obvious. Discovering what to add can be fun.

5. Get smart—take in content from all perspectives

Mindful marketers love learning about perspectives. Every perspective is interesting, and the best way we can learn perspective is to see it in action. It doesn’t matter what you decide to learn, only that you decide to be in a constant state of learning.

Decide what you want to learn and then learn it. For example, you want to expand your understanding of opinions other than your own. To do this, you could watch content from both sides of the political fence, the latest business debate, or even discussions on improvements in your local town. To increase objectivity, you could learn how to breathe before you speak, improve your listening skills, and hold space for someone else. You can learn anything that inspires you, and you get bonus points for opening yourself to outside perspectives and opinions. Remember, if you’re still learning, you’re winning.

The point is to understand different perspectives. Ensure that you expand beyond your belief systems and constructs for how you think life should be. Instead, look for the perspective that makes you question your beliefs and reevaluate them. Then, look for the perspective that makes you want to hold onto your beliefs and share the reasoning behind your perspective. Find content that riles you up and watch it side by side with the content that inspires you.

Homework: Create an Intentional Learning Plan

Put together a list of topics you want to learn more about over the next year. Once you get started, you’ll find that the mind is a tool of inquisition—and when given a platform, the mind wishes to deepen its current understanding. Now, take your list and break it into chunks. Every day, watch, read, or listen to one piece of content on the subject you’re currently exploring. We have the gift of the internet to make our intellectual explorations simple and easy; let’s use it to our advantage.

6. Get balanced—master your emotions

We all have emotions; few of us have mastered them. They either come out in wild explosions or bury themselves deeply into our muscles, bones, and neural network where they just wait for an opportunity to show themselves.

How you deal with your emotions says a lot about your level of self-awareness. Mindful marketers are highly aware of their emotions and the emotions of those around them. Their emotional intelligence is off the charts. They understand that our emotions are the key to designing a positive user experience. They also understand that emotions can be a powerful manipulator and have learned how to deliver positive experiences without emotional deception.

Our emotions could all be placed on a linear scale from the greatest pain to the greatest fulfillment. Every day, we start and end somewhere on that line. The same is true for all prospects and customers. Mindful marketers understand that fear and shame-based marketing ultimately leads to a negative brand experience, even if it works in the short-term. Mindful marketers look at how their work can empower, inspire, and spread positivity into the world.

To master emotion-based marketing, we must first master ourselves. Our emotions can no longer control us in an ego-fueled battle of the creative mind. Instead, we must stop and feel our emotions—really feel them.

We must develop deep relationships with each feeling and learn to accept them. We must sit with fear and offer it space. We hold despair and offer it compassion. We must open the floodgates of acceptance and unconditional forgiveness, to ourselves and to others. Mindful marketers understand that we’re all on a journey to master our emotions, and it starts by understanding them.

Homework: Start feeling again

At least once a week, give yourself an hour to just feel your emotions. Feel everything that comes up and sit with it in a judgement-free zone. Turn an inquisitive eye towards how you experience fear, sadness, anger, disappointment, joy, comfort, love, and fulfillment. When you feel something, stop and identify what you’re feeling.

Notice the subtleties of emotion. Notice that despair is different from sadness and anger. Notice where they are different. You may be surprised to find that what you thought was fear is often a different emotion.

Becoming a mindful marketing leader is a journey that starts every day when we wake up and will not end until we take our final rest. This pursuit is as much a journey of self as it is a journey of our impact in the marketing industry.

Conclusion

You have the power to teach how to bring mindfulness to your company’s leadership. We find ourselves on the brink of truly transformational mindful leadership. As leaders, we have a responsibility to be intentional about our impact on our company culture and society. By exploring and expanding mindfulness based leadership, you’ll prepare with the tools you need to handle whatever the job throws at you with a calm, cool, collected confidence that inspires thoughtful action. We’re the marketing leaders that will change the industry for the better and positively impact generations to come.

Will you join the Mindful Marketing movement or sit on the sidelines of one of the most epic evolutions our industry has seen? The choice is yours.

About the writer
Nichole Kelly
Nichole Kelly
Nichole Kelly has been helping marketers unlock their full potential for over 17 years. From running corporate marketing teams to leading a successful marketing agency, she has experienced all “sides” of the marketing equation. As a lead strategist at WebMechanix, she helps brands discover their “why” and develop digital strategies that deliver impact beyond just profit, a gift she discovered after authoring the book How to Measure Social Media. She is a personal development aficionado and offers a level of self-awareness and feminine leadership that is refreshing and inspiring for every marketer.

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