Welcome to The 12 Measures of Mindful Leadership, also called The Mindful Leaders Manifesto.
It contains my formula for dealing with stress, anxiety, overwhelm and distraction.
This manifesto has evolved over the years as my knowledge and personal experience with mindfulness and leadership has deepened.
Buried within are my strategies for building self-awareness, enhancing self-confidence, achieving results, and expanding influence.
I use it as a check-in for myself to ensure that I’m walking the talk as a mindful leader.
I also use it with my clients to support them as they build awareness of the lessons required to move from living a reactive life based on fear to one filed with mindfulness.
Let’s jump in …
Widen The Gap
The first group of measures fall under the category of Widen The Gap.
These measures are about building our mental muscle of attention. I’ve written about widen the gap in the past, and you can read more about it here.
Measure #1 – Notice The Patterns – Perspective (awareness vs autopilot)
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is the power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Victor E. Frankl
The first measure of mindful leadership is awareness. Awareness is your ability to observe the various patterns of your thoughts, behaviour and emotions, without getting swept away.
Awareness is the single most important skill of mindful leadership, and without it, you will not be able to notice the other measures.
The opposite of awareness is autopilot. It turns out that around 95% of our behaviour is automatic. This means that for the majority of our day we are swept away by our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. It’s no wonder that we find ourselves addicted to email, social media and Netflix.
The best way to develop the skill of awareness is to have a mindfulness practice. This practice should include each of the following; meditation, journaling, exercise, sleep and eating. Wearing a robe, burning incense, and joining a cult, are all optional.
Within a short period, you will start to notice the benefits of your mindfulness practice. This includes a reduction in stress and anxiety, an increase in mental acuity, and when combined with the other measures, an increase in your awareness and influence.
Measure #2 – Open Your Mind – Possibility (curiosity vs judgement)
“We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
The second measure of mindful leadership is curiosity. Curiosity is the ability to shift our perspective, combined with an attitude of non-judgment, in an effort to discover greater possibility.
The opposite of curiosity is judgement. Judgements are the rules and beliefs we have established about the world that are preventing us from moving to the next stage of mindful leadership. When we are judgemental, we close ourselves off from further growth.
Developing curiosity requires us to become aware of the number of positive vs negative thoughts that continuously move through our minds. The ideal ratio is 3 to 1, that is, three positive thoughts for every negative.
When you put curiosity into practice, you intentionally put a stop (or at least minimize) the seemingly never-ending stream of self-criticism that is preventing you from walking the path of a mindful leader.
Measure #3 – Build Positive Rituals – Persistence (consistency vs inconsistency)
“Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.” – Stephen Covey
The third measure of mindful leadership is consistency. When we are consistent, we are persistent and firm in our actions and behaviours, in pursuit of our most important goals, in spite of difficulty or opposition.
The opposite of consistency is inconsistency. When we are inconsistent in our actions and behaviours, we are in disharmony with our character. We have failed as a mindful leader to walk our talk.
To develop consistency requires that we build positive rituals, that repeated again and again, propel us to achieve our goals. These are the positive habits which are created one at a time until we have a habit stack that makes that achievement of our goals look easy.
Remember, it’s not a single habit that makes the difference. It’s the series of practices and disciplines that you build, focused on each of the 12 measures, that when stacked together, enable you to walk the path of a mindful leader.
Walk The Talk
The next group of measures fall under the category of Walk The Talk.
These measures are about building self-confidence as we become mindful of our mind/body connection and we begin to realize that patterns don’t just exist in our heads, but are also wired into our bodies and behaviours.
Measure #4 – Unleash Your Superpower / Leverage Your Strengths – Practice (mastery vs mediocrity)
“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason, mastery demands all of a person.” – Albert Einstein
The fourth measure of mindful leadership is mastery. To achieve mastery means having comprehensive knowledge or skill in a particular subject or activity.
The opposite of mastery is mediocrity. When someone is mediocre, they have not invested the time to develop the unique ability to do something well. Perhaps they have decided to cut corners, to look for the quick fix, and avoid putting in the necessary time and effort to achieve mastery.
The secret to achieving mastery is to choose an area of expertise that leverages your strengths. Strengths are the patterns of excellence that seem to come to us naturally. To become aware of them requires us to look outside ourselves and seek feedback via assessments and others.
When we play to our strengths, the work doesn’t seem like work. We gladly put in the time and effort necessary to develop our chosen discipline to the level of mastery. It also allows us to develop a deeper understanding of our chosen profession and hence add more value.
Measure #5 – Raise Your Standards – Principles (integrity vs incongruent)
“If you want to change your life you have to raise your standards.” – Tony Robbins
The fifth measure of mindful leadership is integrity. There are two related meanings of integrity that apply to mindfulness. The first is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles, and the second is the state of being whole and undivided. Integrity means establishing a set of standards for us to follow AND being congruent in our behaviours when put to the test.
If we keep with our combined definition of integrity, The opposite would be a combination of dishonesty and incongruence. We would be dishonest to ourselves and others when we sacrifice our principles which would erode trust, AND there would be an internal disharmony or incongruence which would weaken our ability to lead and influence.
Imagine what it would be like to achieve integrity across each of the 12 measures. You would have the confidence knowing that all of your actions and behaviour are coming from a place of congruence. This is the vision that I have for you as a mindful leader.
Measure #6 – Manage Your State / Make Shift Happen – Presence (resourceful vs resistant)
“Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” – John C. Maxwell
The sixth measure of mindful leadership is resourcefulness. When we are resourceful, we can deal skillfully and promptly with new situations and overcome whatever challenges life throws at us.
The opposite of resourcefulness is resistance. Resistance happens when we identify with and believe our limiting thoughts. These limiting thoughts arise when we are in unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations. We either play small when we identify with the limiting belief OR, we turn pro by being aware of the limiting thought, and in its place, we adopt an attitude of resourcefulness.
The secret is to be aware when we are in the midst of resistance (aka the emotional hijack) and to intentionally shift our intention and attention toward a more resourceful state. I call this making shift happen and this is what being mindful in the moment is all about.
This most natural way to do this is to pause and take a few slow and deep breaths. The act of breathing allows up to be present within our bodies, interrupting the negative state and gives us the space to make shift happen, and adopt a more resourceful state.
Work On Purpose
The next group of measures fall under the category of Work On Purpose.
These measures are about building up our mental muscle of intention.
I’ve written about work on purpose in the past and created a free resource to help you with these measures. It’s called The ULTIMATE Goal Setting Checklist, and you can download it here.
Measure #7 – Find Your Why – Purpose (significance vs safety)
“If we want to feel an undying passion for our work, if we want to feel we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves, we all need to know our WHY.” – Simon Sinek
The seventh measure of mindful leadership is significance. Significance is about discovering your purpose, the central motivating aim of your life; it is the reason you get up in the morning; it is your why.
The opposite of significance is safety. When we choose to play it safe, we allow our fears to rule us. Purpose brings clarity to our actions, a deep knowing that we are on the right path, which gives us the energy to bring our best self to every situation.
To discover your purpose requires us to answer four fundamental questions. First, what am I really good at? Second, what do I enjoy doing? Third, what can I get paid for? And fourth, how can I make the world a better place. Your why is found at the intersection of these four questions.
Your why will be unique to you and your situation. What’s more, your why can shift and evolve depending on what challenges life happens to throw at you. As a mindful leader, your purpose is to discover your why and to help others do the same.
Measure #8 – Choose Your Focus – Priorities (focused vs distracted)
“Starve your distractions, feed your focus.” – Daniel Goleman
The eighth measure of mindful leadership is focus. Focus is your ability to maintain your attention on a single project or goal until completion.
The opposite of focus is distracted. Distractions are everywhere (squirrel), keeping us from achieving greatness. Do I check Facebook or work on my passion project? Do I study or watch Netflix? Do I eat fruit or the bag of chips? All of these choices and more are preventing you from becoming a mindful leader.
Developing your focus starts with making a choice. It’s as simple as defining your priorities, choosing your passion project, and saying no to everything else. Turning off all notifications is also highly recommend.
When you put focus into practice, by choosing your most important personal and professional goals, you design the life that you were meant to live.
Measure #9 – Get Things Done – Productivity (effectiveness vs urgency)
“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The ninth measure of mindful leadership is effectiveness. Being effective means successfully achieving your intended result as efficiently as possible.
The enemy of effectiveness is urgency. When we are reactive to the urgent, we have the illusion of being productive; however, we are likely ineffective with our use of time and resources.
The challenge of developing this skill is to overcome our addiction to the urgent. When we bring awareness into our busy, yet seemingly productive days, it’s not unusual to discover that a majority of our actions are in response to something that is not in alignment with our essential long-term objectives. Once we become aware of our urgency addiction, we can start to do something about it.
To shift our attention from the urgent to the important requires us to be more strategic in our approach to managing our limited time and resources. The secret is to build a trusted system.
A trusted system is a series of tactics that you apply to ensure you focus on first things first. An example would be to block off time in your calendar for your most important projects. Another might be to make a list of the top 3 actions each day and focus on completing them before you do anything else. There are many useful actions like this that you can use to build your trusted system. Choose one, implement it, and repeat.
Serve Your Tribe
The next group of measures fall under the category of Serve Your Tribe.
These measures are about become mindful of our relationship with others. expanding our influence and improving team performance.
Measure #10 – Speed of Trust – People (authentic vs guarded)
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
The tenth measure of mindful leadership is authenticity.
Being authentic is about moving away from being phoney and false and moving toward being genuine and trustworthy.
Trust is the foundation of your reputation and is required to establish meaningful relationships. When others view you as authentic, you come across as dependable, reliable, and deserving of the trust that they have placed in you.
Being guarded is the opposite of authenticity. When we are guarded, we put up walls and keep others at arm’s length. This erodes trust and fosters distrust, which puts up barriers that impede communication and blocks influence.
To earn the trust of others, you need to be authentic. This is done by being transparent, paying attention, withholding judgement, and genuinely caring about the people around you.
When you are authentic, you come from a place of love. You respect yourself, what you are doing, and who you are with. You put relationships ahead of your need to be right.
Reactive leaders build silos. Mindful leaders build bridges.
Measure #11 – Be The Oil – Persuasion (rapport vs controlling)
“Rapport is the ultimate tool for producing results with other people. No matter what you want in your life, if you can develop rapport with the right people, you’ll be able to fill their needs, and they will be able to fill yours.” – Tony Robbins
The eighth measure of mindful leadership is rapport. Rapport is the measure of our natural ability to establish close and harmonious relationships. It’s about being aware of the patterns of connection that enable us to understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.
Without rapport, positive influence is all but impossible. We can resort to using our position or power; however, this is only good for the short term. The opposite of rapport is when we are controlling. When we close ourselves off from building meaningful connections, we sever the relationship between our minds and hearts. Without rapport, you stop caring about others.
Some believe that you need to disconnect from our feelings to be an effective leader. The sad truth is that many companies reward these leaders for their ruthless efficiency. I’ve met my fair share of heartless leaders, and while they might get the job done, they do more damage then it’s worth. Their actions create companies full of corporate zombies, not mindful leaders.
Organizations are like living machines. Within the machine, we can choose to be a cog or the oil. When we choose a cog, we focus on doing our job in spite of how our work is impacting others. This leads to the creation of silos and culture of win/lose.
When we choose to be the oil, we step into the role of a mindful leader, we put people first, going beyond the limited boundaries of our position, and take ownership for the impact of our behaviours. This enables us to create meaningful connections, to build bridges instead of silos, establish win/win agreements instead of win/lose, and to become a person of influence.
Measure #12 – Measure Your Progress – Performance (feedback vs failure)
“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk
The twelfth measure of mindful leadership is feedback. Feedback is information about your performance used as a basis for improvement. To gather information about our performance requires key measures. A great example of measures are the 12 Measures of Mindful Leadership that we’ve just reviewed.
The opposite of feedback is failure. We need to be very careful with how we internalize failure. When we view ourselves or our results as failures, we neglect to recognize that everything, including ourselves, is work in progress.
In mindfulness circles, this is called the nature of impermanence. Impermanence means that nothing lasts forever. Whatever setbacks we might encounter are temporary, and it’s essential that we learn from them, but know that they do not define us.
There’s a fantastic thing that happens in our brains when we choose to measure something. What we measure automatically improves. This happens in 3 simple steps. First, we set an intention to develop a specific measure. Second, we notice how our day-to-day actions, behaviours and rituals move us toward our purpose. Third, we make tiny adjustments based on the feedback we observe. When we set a firm intention to improve, a lot of this happens unconsciously.
To set yourself up for success, don’t try to change too much at once. Select a measure and become aware of the patterns. Make small changes in behaviour, build better habits and observe the results. Be open to feedback and repeat.
A mindful leader sets the example of being able to learn and improve from feedback. Once you’ve mastered this skill of gracefully receiving feedback, only then, are you entitled to give it.
There you have it.
The current iteration of The Mindful Leaders Manifesto.
Here’s a summary of each of the 12 measures.
|Title||Measure (mindful vs reactive)|
|Notice The Pattern||Perspective (awareness vs autopilot)|
|Open Your Mind||Possibility (curiosity vs judgement)|
|Build Positive Rituals||Persistence (consistency vs inconsistency)|
|Unleash Your Superpower||Practice (mastery vs mediocrity)|
|Raise Your Standards||Principles (integrity vs incongruent)|
|Manage Your State||Presence (resourceful vs resistant)|
|Find Your Why||Purpose (significance vs safety)|
|Choose Your Focus||Priorities (focused vs distracted)|
|Get Things Done||Productivity (effectiveness vs urgency)|
|Speed of Trust||People (authentic vs guarded)|
|Be The Oil||Persuasion (rapport vs controlling)|
|Measure Your Progress||Performance (feedback vs failure)|
I’d love to hear your thoughts about the manifesto.
What do you agree with? What don’t you agree with? Or what is missing? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
How Great Leaders Become Great Leaders
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