Leadership is not for the faint of heart

I am very excited to share a guest post today. I heard Dr. Christina Royal, Provost/VP of Academic Affairs at Inver Hills Community College, talk about a life changing practice she has adopted. Her heartfelt story impressed me and I am confident you will also find it valuable. Thank you Christina!

zen-stone-tower_Gkt0x1PdThere is Zen proverb that states: “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”

Leadership in today’s world is not for the faint of heart. The problems of today are more complex, we have fewer resources in which to address the challenges, and our public accountability to our students, our communities, the State, the Federal Government, and our accreditors is at an all-time high. We are all busy, but the problem is that busyness doesn’t necessarily lead to productivity; it can actually have the opposite effect.

Mindfulness and meditation are two tools that may help reduce the busyness and create an awareness that leads to increased performance.

According to a study highlighted in the Harvard Business Review, spending time on thinking and purposeful reflection, rather than solely working, led to greater productivity. Taking just 15 minutes at the end of your day to engage in mindful thought and reflection could lead to a more productive tomorrow.

Meditation may help with sustaining focus and attention to tasks. There was a study conducted in 2012 that studied how meditation training impacted the behaviors of individuals who were multi-tasking at work and found that “those trained in meditation stayed on tasks longer and made fewer task switches, as well as reporting less negative feedback after task performance” (Wobbrock, Kaszniak, & Ostergren, 2012).

While meditation may not solve all of your problems, there is research showing how meditation positively affects the brain. If you find that the stress of your job is overwhelming, you may want to consider experimenting with mindfulness or meditation to ease anxiety and improve focus.

Christina Royal

References and Additional Resources:

Di Stefano, G., Gino, F., Pisano, G, & Staats, B. (2014, April). Learning by thinking: How reflection improves performance. Retrieved from http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/7498.html.

Gina, F., & Staats, B. (2015, April). The remedy for unproductive busyness. Harvard Business Review [online]. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2015/04/the-remedy-for-unproductive-busyness.

Headspace. (2015). How can mindfulness meditation improve your focus? Retrieved from https://www.headspace.com/science/mindfulness-meditation-focus

Levy, D., Wobbrock, J., Kaszniak, A. & Ostergren, M. (2012). The Effects of Mindfulness Meditation Training on Multitasking in a High-Stress Information Environment. Proceedings of Graphics Interface. 45-52.

MacLean, K. A., Ferrer, E., Aichele, S. R., Bridwell, D. A., Zanesco, A. P., Jacobs, T. L., Saron, C. D. (2010). Intensive Meditation Training Improves Perceptual Discrimination and Sustained Attention. Psychological Science. 21, 6. 829-839.

Walton, A. (2015, February). 7 Ways Meditation Can Actually Change the Brain. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/09/7-ways-meditation-can-actually-change-the-brain/.


5 responses to “Leadership is not for the faint of heart

  1. I believe that mindfulness and meditation will help increase not only the volume but also the quality of what I produce. Any insights or suggestions on best practices for how to implement and more importantly maintain this practice?


    • Christina Royal

      Mindfulness does indeed affect the quality of one’s life, and therefore the quality of what one produces. It does take practice. I often encourage people without a current mindfulness practice, or those new to meditation, to begin with a small goal. As with the formation of any habit, if you jump right in with an unrealistic expectation, there is a good chance it will fizzle out. Begin with something manageable, for example, sitting in silence for 10 minutes and focusing on your breathing. Do this daily. When you feel that you have a routine with the 10 minutes, increase to 15 or 20. If silence is too difficult to start, try a guided or music meditation. There are several free ones on YouTube. The key is to just carve out 10 minutes and begin!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Christina Royal

    Here is a great article on the benefits of breathing: buff.ly/1P8A39U

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Christina is so right about daily practice. I find that habit enhanced with a four-day twice-yearly silent retreat. The opportunity that four days of silence gives one to completely wind down is indispensable. It also models with intensity the mindfulness that one tries to achieve with daily meditation.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Christina Royal

    Very true, Joan, especially with the complexities of leadership. An opportunity to truly disconnect from **noise**, literally and metaphorically is vital. I find the silent and mindfulness retreats greatly enhance my senses, as well as creativity, clarity, and focus.

    Liked by 1 person

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