A few months ago, I decided to start a daily meditation practice. Like so many of us, I was struggling with the weight of the pandemic, and the toll it was taking on my team, my family, and my work. Guided meditations didn't seem to be working, so I decided one morning to wake up early, sit in a cozy chair by a window, set a timer, and just meditate for 5 minutes.
5 minutes turned to 10. 10 turned to 15. By the end of a week or two, I was meditating for 20 minutes every morning, even on mornings when the kids were up and running around.
Within a few weeks, I noticed I was showing up differently, at home and at work. I was able to notice when I was about to get worked up in conversation and calm myself down. I could approach conflicts from a place of curiosity instead of anger. I stopped multitasking in meetings. And now, three months into the practice, I can wake up early, energized and excited-to go downstairs and do my meditation while the house is still asleep. So what, you may ask, does this have to do with leadership? Everything.
As a leader, how you show up has a tremendous impact on both your team and your peers. As Fosslien and Duffy say in their book No Hard Feelings, "Emotional culture cascades from you." When you show up stressed, frazzled, and snapping at your colleagues, that attitude percolates through the rest of the team—and leads to teams feeling stressed, frazzled, and distracted from delivering what's expected of them.
Okay, sure, I hear you saying, "That's great and all, but I'm super busy. Who has time to meditate?" That may be true; I didn't have time to meditate either for years. In my experience, the 20 minutes I spend meditating has actually saved me at least an hour a day; an hour that I normally would have spent frustrated, ruminating on some argument I just had, or otherwise distracted from my priorities.
So, if you decide you want to get started, here's a few tips that have helped me.
In a world gone mad, all you can control is how you show up each day. Taking some time for yourself each day in meditation can make a huge difference in how you relate to your colleagues, your directs, and yourself.
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The MIT Designing for Health Conference took place at MIT Sloan on December 6, 2018. Here are some of my key takeaways.