Friday COACHWORX Business Tip: Bring mindfulness to your business

 

You don’t have to be into yoga and aromatherapy to benefit from “mindfulness.” Despite being the latest wellness buzzword, it’s an actual proven strategy when it comes to running an effective business.

What is mindfulness? Basically, it’s the use of various techniques to hyper-focus your mind on the here and now – blocking out distractions to be more productive and effective. It also helps reduce stress, and boost memory and empathy.

There’s an actual physiological reason for why it works. When we’re feeling stressed or anxious, or amygdala – the fight-or-flight part of our brains – kicks in and makes it harder to use our prefrontal cortex, which is the “executive” area of our brain that allows us to focus. Mindfulness keeps practitioners calm and using their prefrontal cortex’s, allowing them to make better, less emotional decisions.

Techniques for Achieving Mindfulness

Before you start, Mindfulness isn’t for everybody – everybody works a little differently and has a different experience when they use mindfulness techniques. As well, different mindfulness techniques work differently for different people. For the people it does work for, it really works – and you owe it to your business, your staff, your families, etc. to give it a try.

The Object Study

This is also called “the raisin exercise” but you don’t have to use raisins. All you do is take an interesting object and study it, whether it’s a marble or an apple or a leaf or the palm of your own hand. Focus on the shape, the feel, how it responds to touch. If you do use food, you can also focus on the smell and the taste. If you do this properly you’ll notice other distractions slip away as all of your senses focus on something small.

The Body Scan

In a group setting, someone may ask you to lie down and close your eyes, but you can do a scaled-down version this anywhere. Focus on the rhythm of your breathing, and then take stock of your body – what’s sore, what’s itchy, what parts or cold or hot. Focus on one body part at a time, like wiggling a toe, or flexing different muscles as you work your way up.

Mindful Seeing

This exercise is as simple as looking out a window, and suppressing the urge to label and categorize things (e.g. tree, car, cloud). Instead, look at the colors, the patterns, the textures. Focus on small areas and look for shapes and movements. If you get distracted or a thought pops into your head, push it aside and try to pick up where you left off.

Mindful Listening

This is a good one for car audio retailers. You can listen to people, focusing on what they say and their choice of words, and on follow-up questions. Anybody can ask “How was your weekend?” but mindfulness involves digging deeper. “You told me on Friday that your cousins were visiting and you were a bit nervous, how was that? Did you take them anywhere?” A mindful listener can learn a lot from someone while training their own minds to absorb more information and think more clearly.

You can also listen to music. If you do, focus on the layers – the rhythm, the chords, the melody, the way the song starts, the structure between the verses and chorus, the imagery in the lyrics, the little flares that give each song its personality. Ask yourself why you like it, how it makes you feel, etc.

Self-examination

The unexamined life is not worth living, or so the saying goes, but what does it mean to think about yourself. A lot of people have a hard time showing themselves compassion – they either dislike things about themselves, or they push their emotions to the side, or change the topic. Mindfulness means thinking about yourself – how you’re really feeling, what you need, what’s wrong, what’s right, what you’d like to be like. You also need to take the time to forgive yourself, to acknowledge that all people have the same feelings and worries, and to accept all of your faults. It’s amazing what just smiling at yourself in a mirror can do for your self-esteem.

The Five Senses Exercise

Most people take their senses for granted, looking without seeing, listening without hearing, touching without feeling, etc. One mindfulness exercise asks you to use your five senses. Notice five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, one thing you can taste.

You’ll notice that one of the cornerstones of all of these mindfulness techniques is pulling yourself out of the flow and forcing yourself to be in the moment – essentially distracting yourself to achieve a mental state that has all the benefits mentioned above. This is a great, easy exercise people can get into the habit of doing to do quick readjustments during the day.

Mindfull Walking

Ever walk somewhere and then suddenly look up, not really sure where you are or how you got there? Mindfull walking is the opposite of letting your mind wander (although that can also be beneficial) as you try to notice everything – the feel of the ground beneath your feet, the wind in your hair, the smells, the colors, the movement of the clouds in the sky. At first it’s going to feel like your mind is jumping around from thought to thought, sensation to sensation, but you can start to discipline your mind to stay focused on one thing at a time.

Three Minutes of Breathing

The first minute is spent thinking about yourself, how you’re doing right now and the different things you are experiencing at that moment. The second minute is spent being aware of your breathing, and the third minute on feeling your breath extend to every part of your body.

Mindful Eating

Most people cram food into their mouths for energy, or for a few moments of pleasure, but they don’t really take the time to appreciate the experience – the presentation, the weight of the fork in their hand, the texture of the food, the different flavors in every bite. If you take a bite out of a burger, spending a moment sorting the flavors so you really taste the parts – the bun, the tomato, the onion, the lettuce, the ketchup, the mustard. If it would usually take you five minutes to eat that burger, take ten. Not only will this help focus your mind, but there are also health benefits to eating more slowly – and you might develop an appreciation of healthier foods as well.

This is just a sample of techniques that people use. A simple search of Google or YouTube will crop up a hundred more, one of which might work for you.

How do you know if it’s working?

You will know pretty much immediately, the moment you redirect your focus to the here and now. Like a lot of these kinds of wellness practices, mindfulness is subtle. But if you do it right, and occasionally do the self-examination exercise, you might see some improvements. It doesn’t cost you anything to try, but if it works even a little bit you should see a few benefits like:

  • Increased productivity and better work
  • Less stress and better decisions
  • Improved interactions with staff, customers, and others in orbit around your business
  • A greater sense of well-being
  • Greater joy living in the moment
  • A greater appreciation of yourself and the people and things around you
  • Improved memory and learning
  • More patience
  • You will feel less overwhelmed and overloaded
  • Better relationships
  • Better sleeps
  • More confidence in yourself and your decisions
  • Enhanced ability to accept failure and deal with mistakes
  • The ability to put things into context quicker, and not react as strongly

Again, experiences different. But if you only saw one of these benefits, an investment in mindfullness would be worth it.

 


 

COACHWORX is a leadership and business management program that pairs 12-volt retailers with acknowledged experts in the industry to provide them with the knowledge, skills, and systems they need to thrive. Expert advice covers everything from management systems to human resources to inventory control – everything you need to take your business further. For inquiries, please email fixmystore@avidworx.com.

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