Gaining The Mindful Advantage

The tenants of mindfulness can help manage stress, maintain focus, enhance cognitive performance and improve relationships.

We’ve all felt overwhelmed during a hectic workday, particularly in our age of constant connectivity. When we contend with high demand and tight dead-lines, quality can be sacrificed for efficiency, creating a lose-lose situation for businesses and employees. Active mindfulness may be the solution to work-related anxieties and higher quality output that many seek. Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of your body, mind and feelings in the present moment. It can be exercised through techniques like meditation, focused work-outs and “single tasking.” The benefits are proven. Peer-reviewed research in Mindful-ness Journal states that employees of organizations that encourage mindful thinking report less emotional exhaustion, more job satisfaction and better performance.

In my roles as a CEO and board director, I integrate active awareness into my daily interactions and encourage my colleagues to do the same. Leaders looking to reach their full potential at work and empower employees to succeed should consider these six tenants for mindfulness in the workplace.

Learn how to single-task. Create a to-do list and focus on one thing at a time. Setting work intervals is a good place to start. The Pomodoro Technique time management method divides work into 25-minute periods of intense focus, separated by short breaks. When shifting activities, such as right before a meeting, take a few minutes to meditate. Count your breaths, close your eyes or even use an app like Headspace to clear your mind and transition to the next task.

Take a break! When you take a moment to reflect and let your mind wander free from distractions, it absorbs information faster and opens up channels for creativity. Managers can help by making break-taking a cultural imperative, encouraging employees to participate in mindfulness exercises such as walking around the block or taking a few minutes to listen intently to the noises around you.

Embrace the art of listening. At Harman, we believe in creating immersive listening experiences—both in day-to-day interactions and through our high-quality speakers and headphones. Our recently launched “How to Listen” program is improving employees’ emotional wellbeing and productivity through exercises that help them connect with our audiences and tune in to their own emotions.

Become comfortable with uncertainty. Know how to pivot quickly, and pivot often. Accomplished executives easily adapt to new situations where the only constant is change. Introduce yourself to diverse learning methods to develop the skills to maximize adaptability. Mindfulness training helps manage whatever is happening as it comes, rather than switching to autopilot.

Lead by example. I have increasingly adopted mindfulness techniques in my life. I heightened consciousness regarding what I eat and, instead of rushing through a workout, try to stay focused and controlled in the moment. I find meditation builds resilience and vitality and opens my mind to the insights and breakthroughs I’ve been seeking (sometimes creative, sometimes analytical).

Hold employees accountable. Harman recognizes Awareness Ambassadors—employees at any level who share their enthusiasm and skill for mindfulness with their colleagues. We have regular reminders of the advantages of mindfulness through events like group meditation sessions—activities that rejuvenate teams’ commitment and offer them tools to be present at all times.

I encourage you to “stop,” evaluate your routine and determine how you can integrate mindfulness into the day-to-day. A small change could have a significant impact on your professional and personal life. It certainly has for me.