By Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International
Takeaways: Being mindful of what you say and do leads to better communication and clarity of thought and actions. Mindfulness is similar to following the Five Agreements, which help you focus on being present in the moment and being conscious of the words you use to communicate your thoughts and actions to others.
While reading articles about mindfulness techniques I was reminded of the book, The Fifth Agreement, by Don Miguel Ruiz and his son, Don Jose Ruiz.
Mindfulness suggests we be conscious of our thoughts while we walk, while listening to others, while sitting quietly and meditating. Being mindful can mean the difference between saying something in the heat of anger or stress that you wish you hadn’t and taking three deep breaths to calm yourself before you speak. It means thinking about the words you use and how they might be received by others – before you say them.
As a leader, practicing mindfulness helps to make you more aware of your surroundings, of what others are saying and doing. By slowing down your mind, you see the world around you more clearly. You spend more time in the present, rather than in the past of future, caught up in your thoughts.
In their book, The Fifth Agreement, the Ruizes talk about the importance of following the five agreements:
Be Impeccable with your word – always speak with integrity, saying only what you mean. Don’t participate in gossip. Carefully choose the words you use that most clearly express what you are trying to say.
Don’t take anything personally – remember that what others say and do is their own reality, not yours. By not accepting their words and actions as true about you, and telling yourself it’s their reality, not yours, you create a shield against verbal abuse and suffering. Imagine you live and work in a magic bubble that no one can penetrate except those you let in deliberately. Keep your true Self safe.
Don’t make assumptions – this is so hard to live by. Ask questions to dig deeper. Don’t assume you understand what someone is saying. Their interpretation of words may be totally different from your own and can create misunderstandings. Repeat it back to them to gain clarity and understanding.
Always do your best – give 100% of your time and effort to everything you do. When you finish a project, ask yourself, “Did I do my best?” Even if you didn’t get the sale or generate the results you anticipated, did you put your best effort into it? Sticking to this agreement forces you to work and act with deliberate intent, to prepare for every meeting or project, to be present and mindful of your actions and your outcomes. When others see you giving 100% or more, they are motivated to do the same.
Be skeptical but learn to listen – don’t take anything you see and hear as the only truth. Ask yourself “is it really the truth?” Sometimes we say and do things based on past experience or beliefs, which may no longer be applicable. When you begin to think and act as you always have, stop and take three breaths. Then ask yourself, “is this still true or am I acting from past beliefs?” This is being mindful and present about your actions. Question yourself and question others to gain clarity about the true intent behind the words.
If we all followed the Five Agreements and concentrated each day on being more mindful of our words and actions, we would experience better communication among our staff and colleagues. As leaders, we would set an example for how to behave in an organization. This can help to slowly change the culture from one of finger-pointing or acrimony to one of accountability and clarity of purpose. We might even create a “fun” work environment. Try these techniques, and let me know what results you get.