Meditation and Your Business: Myths and Facts

There are countless researched and documented benefits to meditation from lowering blood pressure and chronic pain to helping alleviate anxiety and depression, but how does this affect business? Is sitting completely still and focusing on your breathing really a productive use of time? Here are three common misconceptions about mindfulness and meditation followed by the reasons meditation is just good business.

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  • Myth: Meditation is sitting still not doing anything.

  • Fact: Meditation is training your brain to focus on the present moment.

Many people think meditation is the equivalent of a quick nap. You sit still, relax, and turn your brain off. In actuality, meditation can be very difficult. By continually focusing on something in the present moment like your breath, the sound around you, or a specific sensation, you are exercising your brain to come back to the present. You’re internal thoughts while meditating may look something like this: I am never going to figure out how to… just focus on your breath. Or, If only we could close that one big deal then we could… just focus on your breath. I have to clean the house this afternoon before the kids get home because I know I… just focus on your breath.

The next time your meeting agenda gets thrown out the window, you’re brain may start running away with ideas and emotions, but you’ll be able to bring it back to focus because you’ve been training your brain for a moment like this.

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  • Myth: Meditation focuses too much on emotion and inhibits objectivity.

  • Fact: Meditation trains us to recognize our emotions, accept them, and investigate them to form a deeper understanding of the present situation.

Some people think meditation can turn us into people too concerned with emotion and not concerned enough about the success of the business. In actuality, meditation allows us to recognize our emotions, accept them, and then choose whether or not to use that emotion in our response.

By meditating you focus on letting your emotions be as they are. If you feel angry, you accept it and focus on the present. Once again, you are training your brain.

The next time an employee comes in late and unprepared you can avoid an overly emotional reaction. Your brain will be trained to recognize your emotion, accept it, and make a conscious decision on how to proceed based on what is best for your business.

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  • Myth: Meditation is too much thinking and not enough action.

  • Fact: Meditation trains our brain to focus on the present situation, allowing us to recognize unproductive behavior and then confidently plan and take action.

Many think that meditation is too much inaction and not enough action. In actuality, meditation helps us focus on the present to avoid bad habits like inaction. Much like recognizing your emotions, mediation can help you recognize when you’re stuck in a period of too much planning and too much inaction.

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The next time you are lying awake at night going over the new business changes in your head for the 16th time, you can recognize your excessive planning, focus on your breath and get some much needed sleep. Mindfulness does not look down on planning, rather it says plan once mindfully and then take action on that plan instead of going over the same plan again and again.

A mindful perspective to both your business and your communication can really put you in touch with better ideas, better strategy, and fewer road blocks. For more information or to setup mindful thought leadership, personal branding, change management, or market research, give us a call or email.

One Small Change to Build Trust

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Our language is very important, and it’s the small nuances that make all the differences. Our language is the channel that turns thoughts into actions, so when it comes to building trust, how leaders use the word can make a drastic difference.

Our sentences are comprised of nouns and verbs and other parts of speech. If your middle school grammar lessons are a bit fuzzy, nouns are either a person, place, or thing, and verbs are action words. There are some words considered to be both nouns and verbs depending on how you use them. For instance, the word run: I always run after work: verb. I have to go for a run after work: noun.

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Other words that change from verb to noun are very powerful like love, hate, and trust. I love you. I’m filled with love. I hate this. I’m filled with hate. I trust you. We have a relationship built on trust. Trust is very important in any workplace, but it’s extremely important for a leader. According to Paul Zak’s article in the Harvard Business Review entitled, “The Neuroscience of Trust,” “55% of CEOs think that a lack of trust is a threat to their organization’s growth. But most have done little to increase trust, mainly because they aren’t sure where to start.”

I advocate for one small change to help build trust as a leader. Use trust as a verb instead of a noun. Instead of saying, “we need to build more trust.” Start saying, “I trust you.” Shift your language from treating trust as a thing to be acquired and lost, sand move it to something you do regularly. Trust is reciprocal and showing your team you trust them will build their trust in you. Show you trust to build trust.

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For more small shifts to enhance your communication, your leadership, and your business, contact us at Executive Suite Communication.

The Golden Rule of Self Promotion

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In the past, an executive could do something great for his or her business, and it was only a matter of time before the break room was buzzing and everyone would either provide their praises, provide their criticisms, or at least talk about how they should have thought of it first. My father’s advice of, “if you’re good enough, you won’t need to brag. Other people will do it for you,” may have worked for the water cooler scenario, but it doesn’t work in the 21st century. How can an executive promote their ideas and enhance their personal brand? Break room talk has been moved from the water cooler to email, text, social media, and other digital mediums. This means conversations can stay very private or spread/be shared very quickly. Furthermore, what are people saying about you and your business? Own the conversation and take control of your brand with the golden rule of self promotion.


Golden Rule=Don’t just do it. Do it, and then, share what you did


Let’s say your new initiative cut out 50% of all late work. Get the news out there. Share it with employees, share it with customers, share it with the press, and share it with anyone else with an open ear.  After all, if you don’t take control of this story, then someone else will. Make sure to place your spin on it. These steps can get your good work recognized.


1. Find Your Audience

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Who will appreciate this message? Should you send it to employees only? Are there other companies or industries who could benefit from this information? Understanding who hears the message will help you create thoughtful and relevant communication.

 

 

 

2. Find the channels to Reach Your Audience

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Should you speak to them in person? Should you get it out to your social media accounts? Can you take advantage of company newsletters, message boards, or intranets? Are there publications, websites, or podcasts interested in your work? Think about which channels are available and which channels your audience uses most.

 


3. Craft Your Message

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A good framework to use is S.T.A.R. Tell people the Situation or Task,  the Action you took, and the Result of your action. This will craft your message into something readers can appreciate as objective and worthwhile. 

 

 

4. Look for Ways to Improve


This is a difficult process. It takes time and effort to figure out what resonates with your audience and which audiences are right for you. Reflect on what worked and what didn’t, and make adjustments to respond appropriately. For a truly refined process with very little effort, hire a professional to complete the process for you on a regular basis. Executive Suite Communication can do great things for you and your business.
 

3 Steps to Active and Engaging Lessons, Training, and Professional Development

Preparing 100s of lessons in secondary and post secondary schools has graced us with the formula for active and engaging lessons. Check it out below, and let us know how we can put it to work for you or your business preserving and growing your service, legacy, and innovative thought.

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Credibility at First Sight: Tips to Make Great First Impressions and Support Your Executive Brand

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Everyone has heard it before. First impressions are the lasting ones. But, if you’re bad at first impressions, they can be lasting and painful. I can still remember middle school me trying to impress my friends by talking to the cute girl at the mall. The stain on my shirt mixed with my stuttering incoherent babble plays in my mind like some sort of bad 16 Candles coming of age movie scene ripoff. Still, those stories of bitter embarrassment started me on a journey to making better first impressions. After decades of reflection, I know there are millions of ways to make a great first impression, but there are two things separating the smooth from the nerdy, the pros from the wannabes, and the successful from the overeager, stained-shirt middle schoolers.

#1: Be Authentic

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Famous blues harmonica player Junior Wells said, “I say what I mean, and I mean what I say.” This blues legend played straightforward funky blues, with straightforward riffs, and straightforward lyrics. When he stepped on stage to make his first impressions, people knew he was for real. He was an authentic blues legend. So, how did he do it? How did he show us he was for real? First, Wells knew his strengths and he knew his identity. He knew how to blow funky harp, he knew he was a blues man, and every show, he pushed his identity out there.

For great first impressions, we need to have a firm grasp on our strengths and other core components contributing to our identities. Then, we can push those out to the people we meet. If you are sincere, be sincere. If you are funny, be funny. If you are the nerdy research-and-strategy type (aka, Executive Suite Communication’s founder, Virginia Santy), embrace it. Too often, we try to mimic others. We try to be someone we’re not. Be authentic. Know your strengths, know your identity, and share these things with the people you meet.

#2: Be Present

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Newscaster Dan Harris says in his book 10% Happier, “When you have one foot in the future and the other in the past, you piss on the present.” Kind of a visually abrupt metaphor, but true all the same. If you’re thinking too much about what’s coming, or if you’re thinking too much about where you’ve been, you can’t stay focused on what’s happening right now. To make a strong first impression, you need to listen and engage. This means focusing wholeheartedly on the present. Don’t think about the impression you need to make. Don’t worry about what will happen if you mess up. Let go of bad impressions from your past. If you forget about planning, worrying, and dwelling, and focus on the simple interaction of listening and responding, you’ll come away looking mindful, attentive, and genuine.

Easier Said Than Done

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If positive first impressions were truly as easy as remembering two things, everyone could do it, yet I still see a lot of awkward middle schooler moments, even among professional adults. Being authentic and present requires reflection, intention, identity, and constant adjustment, but with all this work comes the great reward of positive, lasting first impressions.

For help with your great first impressions, communication, personal branding, strategy, executive leadership, and more, contact Executive Suite Communication. Let us put our nerdy, research-and-strategy brains to work for your business and your brand.

3 Reflection Tips to Become a Great Leader

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Every once in awhile I think about carrying around a mirror. It could be like a super power to change people for the better. When a parent is swearing at the referee at their kids’ soccer game, show them what they look like in the mirror.

When the best man at the wedding is making an insulting toast about how love won’t last, BAM! Mirror

When someone on the train gives up a seat to a mom and her kids, look how good you look. Mirror!

What I really want is for those people to look in the mirror and reflect, but sadly, I think carrying around a mirror in my pocket would only open the flood gates for jokes about people seeing themselves in my pants. So I will not take a reflection mirror with me, however, in an era where charisma can often be mistaken for responsible leadership, I truly believe reflection is the difference between a poor leader and a great one.

 

3 Tips to Help Leaders Reflect

1. Vision

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We all have a vision of who we want to be as a leader, but it takes time and attention to solidify this vision. Try this:

  1. Make a list of the traits/characteristics/values/behaviors etc… of the best leader(s) you’ve ever had.

  2. Make a list of the traits/characteristics/values/behaviors etc… of the worst leader(s) you’ve ever had.

  3. Circle the elements you feel are essential for great leadership and then circle the elements you feel are essential to avoid.

  4. Post these around. Let people know you care about these leadership characteristics, and how you want to avoid these others. Most of all, keep things these things in mind and take action to become better.

2. Decisions

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Even the best leaders can get angry, upset, or irrational, but creating the time to reflect and refocus can help leaders respond with a good reflective decision based on understanding instead of simply reacting with a poor decision based on emotion.

  1. Ask yourself if this decision needs to be made right now. If so, take the time to hear all sides, and understand the different points of view, then clarify points of view before making a decision.

  2. If the decision does not need to be made right now, find a space to think all aspects through. Do a little research if necessary. The separation can help provide clarity.

  3. Also remember, thinking can provide clarity, but too much thinking leads to worry. Think it through, understand all sides, and take action.

3. Perspective

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Leaders can get easily wrapped up into the small things, losing sight of what is truly important.

  1. For each issue, problem, or difficulty, think through the worst case scenario and the best case scenario.

  2. Know the outcome will most likely be somewhere in between. After quickly thinking through the possible outcomes, decide whether you need to engage or if someone else can handle it.

Beware the Connectors

How often do you hear the phrase “I’m a connector”? So often, I’d wager, it rings rather hollow. What does it mean, exactly? And is it really how you’d like to be known? Connector smacks of altruism in a way “networker” lacks. The latter implies small-talk and glad-handing. The former calls up thoughts of business match-making. Like all things, some are skilled at it, and some are not. While the mediocre connectors match-make willy-nilly—“Do you know ___? You have to know ___. I’ll e-intro you.”—the truly good ones are more discerning, saving their resources for something truly special. I’d argue, the good ones aren’t connectors at all. They’re catalysts.

What’s the difference?

The Connector

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Connectors bring people together so those people may grow their respective networks.The meeting-of- another is the purpose and the benefit. All additional benefits are the result of the individuals who are meeting, and are independent of the connector. A professional acquaintance—let’s call her Diane—is a good example of a connector. Diane will “intro you” to others within her own network. An email exchange follows, a flurry of coffee meeting scheduling. Finally, you meet your intended. Except, you aren’t really sure why each of you are now sitting across the table from one another. It’s up to the two of you to suss out any collaborative potential.

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Sure, such meetings may be rewarding, but the reward is hard won, the result of time-consuming mutual stumbling and exploration. Diane has done her job as a connector, but was the value worth the time and effort? In today’s attention economy, I find connectors decreasingly valuable. They broker in fast and loose network-sharing with little appreciation for the investment required to fully delve into a new introduction. And when you find yourself the resource freely brokered—the “connection” handed out to up the game and reputation of the connector—it’s difficult to detach.

The Catalyst

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Catalysts, on the other hand, set the stage. They hasten an outcome. They bring people together, yes, but with a large dose of premeditation. Connecting others is not a knee-jerk reaction, but a carefully construed exercise, replete with a limited number of possible, desired outcomes such as collaboration, business development, investments, or the realization of a shared goal.


My client, Chris, is a catalyst. When he brings people together, he creates a conducive environment, one in which both parties are fully prepped for the meeting, and have at least a cursory appreciation for the value the other brings to the interaction. Whereas Diane brings together two elements and considers her job done, Chris brings together two elements in a laboratory setting, of sorts. He controls the environment, expects results. He is invested in the outcome because he recognizes his value is tied to it.

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Chris would admit to being a connector, years ago. But as his networks grew rich with sophisticated, time-strapped executives and leaders, he realized connections themselves were not valuable, and in fact, making connections communicated his lack of understanding of and appreciation for the realities of those he sought to connect. He wasn’t bringing value. In fact, he was creating a drain on resources. Fortunately, Chris realized this immediately, and talked to my firm about how to adjust his activities and leadership accordingly. Today, my most valuable meetings come from Chris and the one or two other catalysts in my life. They are infrequent, as anything truly valuable is, but always worth my time.