When leaders operate under the illusion of control, it’s a sign that their ego is running the show. Sometimes this is a good thing (it reminds them to get to a meeting on time), sometimes it leaves no space for a good way to emerge to meet their current challenge.
However, this show running comes with a hefty price tag: we end up investing a lot of our mental bandwidth thinking about what has already happened — and we can no longer change – or what might happen – and we cannot truly influence. Maybe it would be more accurate to replace “thinking” by “worrying” in the previous sentence.
A simple tool to pull our thoughts back to the right here, right now, is simply to focus our attention on our breathing. This helps us to allow our leadership to emerge. Breathe deeply and slowly. In. And out. In. And out. After a few deep, slow breaths, the mental chatter drops several decibels. We begin to notice what’s happening inside. On a good day, we can enjoy a quiet mind for a moment or two. Then it becomes clear what to do or say. I was introduced to this technique about twenty five years ago, at a time when I had spent days worrying deeply about how to solve an at-the-time big problem. Within a few minutes of starting, I had no chatter in my mind for the first time in a week, and in a further thirty seconds, I could see a clear path to a solution.
A typical problem with this simple technique is that, sometimes, our thoughts don’t quieten. My experience is that that occurs when my attention stays with my thoughts instead of moving to my breathing. It’s like, when you go for a walk in the park and a puppy bounds over to you, wanting to play. If you studiously ignore him, he’ll eventually give up and go look for a different playmate.
What happens, when you ignore your puppy?
Photo: Felix Möckel / iStockphoto