A prelude to training emotional intelligence

In a previous blog post of ours, we defined mindfulness and wrote about how it makes you a better leader.

Regular introspective practice allows your brain to fully relax and reduces your tendency to lead on autopilot. You reclaim all of the mental and emotional territory you lose to distractions outside the present moment, which gives you more choice and control in how you respond and react in the present moment. Your self-knowledge from this vantage point helps form the foundation for the emotional intelligence skills of a great leader.

There are also numerous other well-documented benefits of mindful awareness practice that contribute to leadership presence and effectiveness, including better attention, focus, and resistance to distractions, improved management of upsetting emotions, staying calm under acute stress, and physically altering parts of the brain associated with learning and memory, emotional regulation, and perspective-taking – critical cognitive skills for leaders attempting to maintain their equilibrium under constant pressure.

The Practice

We don’t use the word “practice” lightly. The best effects come from a daily commitment. The steps are simple:

  1. Focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale, without trying to change anything about it.
  2. When your mind wanders (remember, 50 percent of the time, on average), notice it without judgement.
  3. Bring your attention back to your breath.
  4. When you notice it has wandered off again, repeat the cycle.

The moment of noticing your breath has wandered is being mindful. Bringing your attention back to your breath and the present moment strengthens your brain’s circuitry for concentration.

Our favorite and very eloquent description of how to practice mindful awareness is a talk given by Richard John at the first meditation session of the Shambala Institute’s Summer Program, June 18, 2002. You can read the transcript here.

Find what works best for you

While many CEOs and companies are embracing meditation, it may not be for everyone. We help our clients identify which positive body-mind practices best help them keep growing and changing –whatever reconnects you to your inspirational and creative energy. The important thing is to have a practice that you do on a regular basis that helps you pull back from the intense pressures of leadership to calm your mind, reflect on what’s happening, and come back to the present moment.

(image credit: careers.theguardian.com)