How many times do you feel like you are subject to the whims of forces outside your control? An urgent deadline emerges. A key employee resigns without notice. Technology fails at a critical presentation.
You know how unsettling these moments can be. One minute you’re happy, but then you get a challenging call, and the next minute you’re not so happy. No matter what echelon of the business world you occupy, at some point, you will be caught off guard by change.
We set ourselves up to be in a constant state of discomfort by refusing to accept that life is change. So, step one in reducing suffering is acknowledging that the over-arching rule of life is change.
Adding to this turmoil is the fact that your body will change as you age. And your finances might fluctuate over the years depending on items outside your control – that’s real change!
Like it or not, we are compelled to make a decision when life throws us curve balls. That’s where mindfulness can be a huge asset.
Accepting change as a matter of course instead of a personal attack and life becomes less stressful. Better yet, mindfulness can be your anchor to fight off any turbulent change.
In fact, we can observe stress to change in meditations like the body scan or watching the breath during a moment of silence. You might find your attention wandering away or thinking about the meeting you will be leading afterwards. Worrying might cause you to feel a cramp in your calf muscle and start wondering where that came from.
However, the more we train ourselves to watch for and accept constant change the better we’ll be prepared for it once it hits. Once we start to gain experience of the space between a thought and the observation of the thought, there is enough room to step back and make a more strategic choice.
A choice that more clearly reflects who we really are. A choice that accepts what is happening and to logically respond to that - even in the midst of unexpected change.
Combining Mindfulness with Proactivity
So now that we have considered mindfulness to help us stay calm with life’s challenges, let’s take it a step further. Rather than being reactive to change, let’s use mindfulness to be proactive.
You know that in business the name of the game is being one step ahead of the pack. Sensing where the growth or value is going to come from and getting there fast. You’ve probably heard phrases like, “Let’s be proactive and get a jump on the competition” or “The early bird gets the worm.”
It’s a lot easier said than done, but practicing being proactive is a key component of efficiency. And the way you activate proactivity can propel you, your company and your life into a more successful, satisfying and authentic realm.
So here’s how mindfulness and proactivity synergize.
Being proactive means you take responsibility for the way you move through the world. It is a perspective that puts you in the driver’s seat rather than at the mercy of others. Rather than “I have to, I should, I can’t because” proactive people come from a place of, “I choose to, I am, I want to.”
When we take the time to be mindful, perhaps observing our language in this case, we are able to discover an unconscious perspective that has been hiding beneath the surface of our awareness. When we become cognizant of patterns that are disempowering us, we are again faced with a decision.
But this decision is a bit different than the externally appearing chaos mentioned in the beginning. This decision requires a desire to empower ourselves, to become better, more effective humans in every aspect of our lives.
Because let’s face it, many of us have gotten so used to making our problems and challenges someone else’s doing, it’s rather daunting to consider taking on the full reality of our lives. No one would argue that it’s easier to blame a failed presentation on having to travel all night instead of a lack of preparation.
The dividends are endless if you put yourself in control of your own life and get proactive. You may not always get to choose how people behave or what challenges life hands you, but you do get to decide how you respond to the situation.
Try it for Yourself
Here’s a little experiment. Try being more mindful of the language you use when speaking about activities in your life. If it’s, “I have to pick up our partner at the airport at 6AM” try “I’m looking forward to picking up our partner at 6AM.” Just give it a shot and try switching to proactive and positive language for your tasks and see how it feels.
Would you like to learn more and actually give mindfulness a try? We invite you to try for free an online mindfulness training session. You can read more and sign up here.
About the Author:
Anne Krog Iversen is the co-founder/chief DNA & culture officer at TimeXtender, where she built, implemented, and manages corporate mindfulness throughout all of its global offices and has made it an integral part of the company’s DNA. She has played an instrumental role in growing TimeXtender across numerous geographic regions and attracting more than 2,600 customers worldwide.