Let me tell you the story of the latest leg of the journey which has led to the creation of a new course A Port in the Storm – Mindfulness for Business Leaders.
I’ve been learning how to develop leadership presence for myself and my clients for the past few years. Leadership presence or call it awareness or mindfulness, is a fundamental requirement for the type of leadership the world needs now: conscious leadership. I am drawn to understand it and help people experience it.
“…relational mindfulness is a game-changer…”
I have learned over the past few years that relational mindfulness is a game-changer for developing conscious awareness in daily life. Humans are relational beings; the presence of another person automatically draws our attention to the unfolding moment and helps us stay on task. It is much easier to listen to ourselves when someone else is there to receive our words. It is easier to keep our minds in the present moment when someone is expecting to hear us. Unlike in solo meditation, we don’t tend to fall asleep nor get lost in thought as easily. And our practice in interactions with others models the social context in which life happens.
In March 2022, Mindfulness Coach Gen Heng and I offered the Mindfulness in Dialogue course over 8 lunchtimes in order to introduce the breakthrough practice of relational mindfulness to our contacts and clients. We were aiming to empower working people and business leaders to apply clear minds and open hearts to the problems they are facing. These human capacities are fundamental to addressing the multitude of problems we are facing as a whole society.
And to a small extent we succeeded. But the truth is that the people we most wanted to reach, the busy working people, the corporate decision-makers and people leaders, find it difficult to make the time and space for such a course.
“the people we most wanted to reach, the busy working people, the corporate decision-makers and people leaders, find it difficult to make the time and space for such a course.”
In the evenings busy working people are tired, and still rushing through dinner and family commitments. In the middle of the day they are busy and focused on work commitments. We know that many people who really want to become more mindful in their lives have a very hard time making space for such a change.
We felt disappointed that many participants could not attend the whole course, or weren’t able to engage such that they could really grasp the course’s benefits. We felt some regret that perhaps we tried to cover too much. And we wondered how we could do better.
Early this year, a bit of luck gave us the opportunity for another experiment. One of our past participants invited us to provide a short course to a group of business leaders. This was an opportunity to apply our learning. And so we made some important changes to our approach.
First, we kept the course short and focused only on developing the capacity to pause and relax. Second, we implemented a ritual of creating the space together, of allowing time for everyone to set aside distractions and bring their attention into the present moment with the group. Third, we did a lot more modelling of how this is done. Humans learn best by copying, and we took full advantage of that.
“…we implemented a ritual of creating the space together…”
Comparing our new course with the first 3 sessions of the original course, our results were markedly better. This short course length meant that more participants were able to attend every session. We were thrilled to hear some sharing about:
- How difficult it is to slow down and also how valuable it is
- How much the support of others helps in calming down and gaining self-awareness
- How much our internal weather affects those around us and our results
- How by accepting how difficult meditation is, the whole process is much easier
- How it is possible to revisit a stressful situation from a place of calm and gain insight into the causes of stress
And that’s after just three sessions together! It is only the beginning of what is possible as we gradually gain access to this new way of relating to ourselves and others.
The new course is called A Port in the Storm because it provides access to the first requirement for mindfulness, to find a place and time to step back and relax. It is designed for busy (or not busy) people who realize the need to continuously develop their mindfulness for everyday work and leadership situations.
We envision this course as a first (or next) step –an entry into the world of Mindfulness in Dialogue which gives us access to the kind of mindful investigation that has been bringing insight and joy to our days. Please join this journey with us.
In future courses, staying with the process of Mindfulness in Dialogue , we intend to explore the fundamental and deeply practical questions of what it takes to be a conscious leader. The world needs us to be awake and aware of what we are doing.