Most of us want to make a positive difference in the world, whether the world includes just you and your loved ones, or is a little bigger and includes people, you work with, your clients, the environment, or the world at large.
Yet an important question not addressed in our education or upbringing is:Can we change the world if we do not have the power to manage our own minds?
Lets do an experiment to find out. Count down very slowly from 24 to 0 without any other thoughts. If you get any other thought or feeling you need to start all over again. Were you able to do this? Just 24 seconds and we could not stay focused. Yes?
I have lived, studied, and worked in 3 countries and no where in my formal or informal education was I taught to manage my thoughts and emotions.
Definitely not in a business school.
This presentation is to share insights from my practice and scientific evidence in support of mindfulness, a practice that can help us manage our minds. And since I am a marketer I will speak about its relevance in the marketing world but you can apply this to any aspect of your life. Essentially, I am here to invite you, excite you and even dare you to explore the depths of your being, not as a religious act, but as a scientific process of self discovery so you can live your life fully.
Lets look at what mindfulness means and the science behind your mind and mindfulness
A definition by Thich Nhat Hanh,a Buddhist monk and peace activist who made mindfulness accessible to western sensibilities
JonKabatZinnwho made mindfulness popular in mainstream medicine and society adds that it is non judgment and purposeful
Based on all the definitionsout there and the Buddhist texts, here are 4 characteristics of mindfulness that I will be focusing on
Are you here now?If you are not, no worries, I will not take it personally, because it is the nature of the mind to oscillate between the past and futureAnd that what causes stress. Anyone in the audience stressed?If you think about it, we are stressed because we are regretting, angry, or sad about something in the past or tensed, anxious, and excited about something in the future.In the present moment there is no stress. Like right now, is there any stress. Right Now, is there any stress?
William James wasn’t joking when he said that we are only half awake.
Because according to recent research in Harvard, people check out almost 47% of the time. What that means is that their minds have wandered away from the present task at hand.
They also found that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.
The wandering mind phenomenon can be explained by the two modes in which the mind works. The direct experience or sensory perceptual mode attends to the stimuli through all our senses in the present moment. This is the mode that allows us to enjoy the soft breeze on our skin and smell the flowers and hear the birds sing…However, By default we are mostly operating in the conceptual mode which includes thinking, day dreaming, planning, remembering, comparing, analyzing and so forth. When we are in the conceptual mode, we may be on campus on the most beautiful day but we don’t experience the beauty because we are lost in our thoughts.The conceptual modeis critical to our survival as humans but the problem arises when we overuse the conceptual model and this lack of attentiveness to the present moment is associated with overreactivity of the limbic system which governs our emotions especially those related to our survival.
What is interesting is that non meditators by default used the conceptual mode an and they are not even aware that they are in their conceptual mode – this as we know causes stress and reactivity in peopleIn contrast, meditators have more awareness of which mode their mind is operating in andthey can choose which mode they want to operate – this enhances their response-ability. Instead of being reactive they can choose their responses.
Sati or mindfulness is bare awareness that is not caught up in old thinking and concepts
Many scientists have talked about the influence of the subconscious or unconscious on our behaviors.
Some state that up to 95% of our behavior is determined by the subconscious. By subconscious I am referring to that part of our mind that functions without observation or attention from the self-conscious mind.The subconscious mind comprises all your old memories, experiences, and programs. Like a tape recorder it records all your experiences and when you or someone or something in the environment press your button, you are prompted to automatically play the old thought or behavior.
One of the reasons that the subconsicos is so powerful is that it can process upto 400 billions bits of info per second while your conscious mind can only process 2000. If you conscious mind was in conflict with your unconscious, you know hwo will win. For example if your conscious mind wanted to meditate but your subconscious recording did not support that behavior, it will be very hard for you to meditate. With mindfulness practice you start becoming aware of old thinking patterns and concepts that have been dictating your life and once you make the unconscious conscious you can choose differently.
Non judgmental observation means simply observing what is without labeling it as good or bad. Mindfulness is not infatuated with the pleasant nor avoids the unpleasant. Simply note what you are feeling. Do not try to change it or justify. Simply observe. By becoming an observer we are able to break free from the drama we were caught in earlier.
A big part of non judgmental observation is acceptance and self compassion. Self compassion includes kindness towards oneself, experiencing oneness with others, and having a balanced awareness of what one is feeling.I picked this picture because of the words below and the person’s eyes which clearly show compassion
There is evidence that self compassion enhances our resilience, well being and life satisfaction and helps people adapt to change.
An important aspect of mindfulness is knowing the purpose of your actions and finding the most ethical and best method to achieve it
Ethics plays a big role in the mindfulness practice. Studies have shown mindfulness as a trait to be correlated with ecological behaviors and and the silent ego which includes wisdom, altruism, and the feeling of oneness with others.While typically the American life assumes happiness and environmentally behaviors to be mutually exclusive, the cited study found that mindful people were not only more ecological but also happier.
Within the business world this focus on higher purpose is reflected in a new movement called conscious capitalism, which is moving away from the old paradigm of maximizing shareholder value to maximizing stakeholders values and such business are led by conscious leaders who are living their purpose in all aspects of their business and it reflects in their corporate culture.
In fact a longitudinal study over 10 years revealed that conscious businesses out performed the S&P 500 by a factor of 9:1
Now let see how mindfulness can benefit business, more specifically marketingSimply put, marketing includes these four stages: defining your business mission, doing an environmental scan to check in internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats; creating a unique positioning that differentiates you from other comparable businesses; and developing the right marketing mix to include the product, price, promotions, and place
Comprehension of right purpose is an important aspect of mindfulness and is a common theme among the founders & CEOs of these successful organizations. All these organizations have a bigger purpose that benefits not only the shareholders but other stakeholders as well. The mission of Jonano is to create beautiful clothes through mindful, ethical, environmentally friendly processes., Sounds true supports people in their personal transformation, medtronics mission is to restore people to full life & health, & the purpose of one world café is to end world hunger.In my consulting experience I often find that people are not clear about their business mission beyond making profits. And yet a clear business mission of how your business serves the world, provides value like no one else, is the foundation upon which the rest of your business is built. Like Marc Benioffceo of salesforce.com says that people cannot be united or focused unless they share a common mission that makes them feel that they are contributing to something meaningful over and above making profits for the shareholders.Finding your personal purpose or business purpose requires soul searching, if you want to live a really fulfilling life. Many mindful leaders speak about finding their purpose through personal exploration of what is meaningful to them. It is quite easy to live the purpose handed over to you by your parents, schools and society – but what is the way you choose to touch this world & be in this world? It is also important to note that being mindful doesn’t mean you are perfect. People still make mistakes, but being mindful means accepting ones mistakes and learning from them. What this also means is that your purpose can be evolving and changing as you and the environment changes.
Non judgmental observation of your inner and outer worlds is a key aspect of mindfulness that can be very helpful as we do our environmental scan in business. when i started my consultancy i had no idea about social media but my environmental scan showed that this is a growing trend that i cannot ignore and had to learn it. now i teach others how to use social media and it is very common to find people resist learning new technologies to market themselves effectively. What makes this harder is their judgment of the situation or themselves – oh I don’t have time or I just suck at technology. If we suspend all judgments and criticisms and simple observe the changes in our environment, in our customers needs, we can respond to them more easily. Mindfulness also helps us deal internally with the changes and threats in our environment. As Marcshares in his book – early on when he was trying to launch his company some people criticized his vision and tried to provoke him but his meditation practice helped him stay calm and deal with the situation mindfully.
Awareness of higher purpose combined with non judgmental observation of the environment to discover unmet needs in the marketplace naturally renders to a Unique positioning. UP refers to the perception people have about you and is based on how you differentiate yourself from comparable companies. As a mindful marketer your unique positioning is a natural outcome of who you are. For example Denise Cerreta founder of one world everybody eats café was a chiropractor who had an epiphany that she should start a café to end world hunger – and what was unique about her café was that it was no price, no menu, no portions model. Her concept was so unique in trusting customers to pay, no one going hungry, using organic local foods and building community that she now travels around the country helping others start similar community cafes.
Non conceptual awareness contributes greatly to new product development. Innovation happens when we step out of old thinking patterns. However, status quo is a big opiate and obstacle to innovation. It is especially hard to change when the company is big and profitable.That didn’t stop Ray Anderson of Interface carpets from developing entirely new products and changing the manufacturing process and culture within his organization once he became aware how his heavy petroleum based products were harming the environment. Today He is a market leader in modular carpets & using processes that are less harmful to the environment. His non attachment to old thinking patterns support innovation and the manifestation of his new vision of becoming truly sustainable in all dimensions including people, product, processes, place, and profits by 2020.
Present time awareness can play a critical role in all our communications. Very often we are not fully present in our interactions with others. So lets say you are a sales person – instdea of really listening to the customer you are already in the future trying to close the deal or you may be stuck in your past failures – either way you are not really listening so you cannot be your best in providing the best solution to your client.Besides present time awareness, awareness of highest purpose also helps in authentic communications – so connecting with your authentic story and speaking from that place of integrity can help establish trusting relationships with your clients. And now with social media we have many opportunities to listen and authentically connect with our clients. Blake Mycoskie was contemplating his purpose in life when he came up with the idea of starting a business with the purpose of donating a pair of shoe for every pair sold, Instead of using traditional advertising he used social media to tell his story, and because his story was so engaging and inspiring, people passed it on and today Toms shoes is well known brand and Blake is expanding his idea of integrating philanthropy as part of the business model to other areas beyond shoes.
I hope this glimpse into how your mind works and what mindfulness can do for you has piqued your curiosity and the first thing you will done once you leave here today is find a mindfulness practice that works for you. There are many choices out there – so experiment with the different meditation and mindfulness practices, find the one that works for you. In conclusion, I hope these 4 questions will assist you in a scientific inquiry into your mind and help you Be the change you want to see in the world…Thank you!
What They Don't Teach You In Business Schools: Mind & Mindfulness in Marketing