Mindfulness has become very popular, also in the business context. Even though there are a few voices, which not only see it positive, the vast majority believes that being more mindful at work is beneficial. I will not try to summarize all the material which is out there but to share my very personal experience.
I first got in touch with mindfulness around 5 years ago when I traveled to South East Asia and stumbled into a free meditation class in the midst of Bangkok. Honestly, I had no clue what I was up to but the monk I was talking to called Hartanto Gunawan had a lasting impact on me. Most likely this was also driven by the fact that he served as a manager and CEO of several enterprises in Indonesia before he changed sides, so he knew my world pretty well.
After a few questions only, I realized how self-centered I was running through the world and how little I noticed about what was happening around me. This did not mean that I was unsuccessful, I helped establish new businesses and turnaround others. Still, the way how I achieved it felt quite stressful, if not to say exhaustive. And I had the impression that I needed to run even faster to keep pace with the ever changing environment. Or was I wrong?
Listening to Hartanto, there seemed to be at least one alternative way worth exploring: Be more present, truly listen to what others have to say and thus access a much broader source of wisdom. At first, I felt ashamed because I remembered the times when I interacted with others and primarily waited for the right moment to talk back and make my point. Could it be that I missed an even better solution due to this behavior?
Most probably I had, at least sometimes, and I could not imagine that this was very engaging for my opposites as well. However, how could I change? Most of the times it was happening very sub-consciously, and I only realized later, if ever. So, Hartanto and other monks I met on the way taught me about meditation and how it would help me being more mindful. 15 minutes just sitting still every morning could make a big difference and increase my self-awareness and the awareness for others.
Frankly speaking, I was skeptical. 15 minutes was not a lot, but every morning when I was in a hurry anyway and my mind was wandering already? Still, I tried and I was surprised about the effect, not immediately but over time. Mostly when I meditated the days at work (and at home) seemed to differ: I was more present and less distracted, I was clearer for myself and for others, I could pay more attention to what others had to say and we could thus find better solutions, which was much more engaging and often more fun, too.
Does that mean that meditation and its benefit of being more mindful is the solution to all business problems? Definitely not, however for me it turned out to be an additional and powerful source to navigate through the complex challenges I face as a manager day in day out.
Have you had similar experiences? Or perhaps different ones? I would be very interested to hear about them.
Gaudenz Stricker is a Marketing & Sales professional with broad business experience across DACH. He currently serves as Marketing Director for Petcare, Confectionery, and Food in Austria.