(M) indful or Mind Full?


We live in a world plagued by the busyness disease.  Don't pretend like you don't know what I'm talking about because you do.  Busyness is when you're so consumed with stuff that your mind is literally full of things to do, places to be, and check lists to complete.  Your calendar is full of endless activities and projects that keep you from becoming more mindful.

I used to care about busyness until I hit the wall and met my friend, mindful.

Mindfulness is about meaningful presence, focus, calmness, and full awareness.  Having a "mind full" can be as simple as getting a message that distracts you from being present.  This happened to me at lunch with my friend Don.  We spent a good 80 minutes, focused.  In a moment, I looked down at my cell phone at the barrage of messages.  In an instant, I was distracted for the rest of our meeting.

It is a choice to be mindful or mind full.

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People and companies are choosing to be more mindful.  Just last week, Intel announced a launch of a mindfulness program to its global workforce in 63 countries.  In late March, Adrianna Huffington released her book, Thrive which focuses on creating a life of well-being, wisdom and wonder.   It isn't something you or I can teach.  It's a way of living.  And mindfulness isn't new.  It's just become increasingly more important given the epidemic of busyness.

True story...

m_mindful_helenNot too long ago I hosted an acquaintance to tag along and network with senior leaders at a lunch.  We'll call her Helen the Hurricane because she's the kind of person whose presence sucks the life out of a room.  After arriving late to the meeting, Helen took a big breath and introduced herself as the busiest woman she knew.  After overwhelming us with her never-ending busyness medals of honor she proudly adorned, she sulked about the lack of sleep, exercise, and time with her kids she had due to such choices.   She then offered that younger people she knew weren't as hard-working because they didn't put 'in their time.'   She left the meeting early, having spent about half the time on her Blackberry,  and the other half inhaling her lunch. (So much for healthy.  I consciously noticed she chose to just eat dessert.)

We should feel sorry for Helen, right?  Wrong.  Helen chooses this life.

It's sad that busyness has reached this new low of extremely pathetic.

  • Busyness is NOT a badge of honor.  This never-ending back-to-back activity is an addiction.  It's no better than overeating, alcoholism or a drug habit.  It's become a competition to vie for the title of "busiest" and less about meaningful, focused work.  My friends, our self-worth should never be tied to "busy".  How and with whom we choose to spend our time are choices.  Our choices reflect what we respect, value, and how we take care of ourselves and if we are capable of caring outside of ourselves.
  • Busyness is driving distractedness to a whole new level.  We need to stop the cell phone madness.  I am guilty of this.  I should shut it off in the evening at home.  We are guilty when we use them during a meeting or God forbid, in a car.   Maybe this is you?  It's okay, forgive yourself but please, stop!   The people you are in the room with deserve your presence and your life is worth getting to your destination safely.  You aren't going to be any good to anyone if you don't focus!  Sorry Don.  Next time I'll switch off.
  • Saying YES to everything isn't sustainable nor reliable.   It's a surefire way to tell the world you thrive on the need to please everyone, do everything, and be everywhere.  I grow concerned about those who say YES often and their ability to come through on commitments.  I back away from these types because their inability to prioritize, focus and make good choices reflects on you when it comes time to deliver the goods.

Seven steps to greater mindfulness, less busyness and dealing with hurricanes ...

1.   Do less.  Give up your need to be overly busy.  Stand up and say it.  "I will do less because I don't get my self-worth from being overly busy."

2.  Pace yourself.   Do one thing at a time.  To start, try savoring your meals.  Chew slowly.  I bet you'll find you'll eat less.


3.  Allow for some space between "things".  Try shorter meetings with focused topics that need action and aren't just for status purposes.  Schedule "downtime" in your calendar so people don't snatch the next available time slot.

4.  Put in a daily routine of exercise or meditation.   Start small, but start something...anything!

5.  Switch off all devices.  This is my weak spot.  I need to work on this but I've become better at creating the right space for when to use my computer, cell phone and other iDevices.

6.   Journal daily.  I make a habit of cherishing the moments throughout the day that were meaningful.  Today's memory was seeing my daughter's smile while she bathed in the tub singing.

7.   Find other mindful people.  When you surround yourself with Helen the Hurricane, you're likely to get sucked into the vortex.  Find people who value mindfulness.  You can learn a lot from each other.

What are you doing to be mindful?  How is it helping you in work and life?  Have any Helen the Hurricane stories?  We all deserve a good break today and would love to hear from you.

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