Meditation for Workplace Wellness

Benefits of workplace meditation are becoming increasingly clear. Participants feel less depressed and less emotionally exhausted, and above all, less stressed. We have figured out every possible way to exercise our physical body … the next frontier is our mind – to get the most out of our brains so we can handle the mega-pressures of the information era. Today, meditation is being used by a large cross section of society – from the United States Marines to large corporations. The benefit of stress reduction is slashing corporate healthcare costs, building emotional resilience, happiness and an overall more positive outlook on life.

Research shows that constant information overload sends the brain into the fight-or-flight stress response, originally designed to protect us from man-eating tigers and other threats. Studies showed that 50% of a knowledge worker’s day is spent ‘managing information’ and that constant information overload sends the brain into the fight-or-flight stress response. In a high stress level state we lose our ability to make decisions, process information, and prioritize tasks.

Meditation has been found to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and decrease the size of the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with sensing threats and triggering the fight-or-flight stress response. Meditation has also been found to trigger physiological changes of relaxation, such as lower heart and respiratory rates, lower blood pressure, and lower oxygen consumption. There is an increase in activity in the left prefrontal cortex which is associated with positive emotions, thus increasing one’s ability for focus and concentration, empathy, decision making, self awareness, and for more adaptive responses to negative or stressful events.

If you are not reaping the benefits of meditation in today’s pandemic-driven, chaotic and stress-filled world, your performance as an individual, as a leader, and as an organization will undoubtedly suffer negative consequences.

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Are You Motivated to Change?

Practicing self-awareness and identifying your behaviour strengths will help you manage your behaviour choices and help you to form effective collaborations. These are the key steps to becoming an effective leader.

Achieving the goal of effective leadership requires daily practice of managing yourself well within your behaviour strength domain. This requires the motivation to change and to acknowledge through self-awareness how your behaviour impacts others around you. Then use your behaviour strength(s) to know why it is you choose to behave the way you do. With this knowledge you now have to make a conscience choice to change those areas you discover about yourself that are hindering your effectiveness.

Leadership is not simply a buzzword but an action. Leadership is being an active participant in the management of others and organizations. Change is rarely welcomed. In fact, in most cases it will make you uncomfortable because it forces you to make a conscience effort to do something different. Change forces you out of your comfort zone and long-held standard practices and mental models.

To effectively lead others you must be a great leader and acknowledge as Jim Collins said, “good is the enemy of great.” You cannot create great organizations and become great leaders if you are unwilling to change those elements of your behaviour that you accept as ‘good enough’. Effective leadership means peak performance and it is a full time, daily pursuit. As a peak performer you are committed not only to your own success but to the success of others. You support and encourage others around you and do what you can to help them achieve their goals and succeed in the pursuit of their mission.

Once you understand your behaviour strengths and why you behave they way you do, you can then,
through self-awareness, understand how you impact others. So it is that you must be empowered with a purpose and a motivation to change. John Maynard Keyes said, “that the hardest thing is not to get people to accept new ideas; it is to get them to forget the old ones.”

If you want to become an great leader, you must change the elements of your behaviour that may be ‘good enough’ but are holding you back from great personal and professional achievement. The skill of Positive Presence leads to a new way of thinking and being that when mastered is the natural state of a highly skilled change agent.

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Mindfulness for Stress Release

The complexity, ambiguity and relentless pace of today’s pandemic driven world places gigantic demands on business leaders in every industry. Leaders are working incredibly hard and yet feel that they are not meeting their own expectations of excellence. They are left overburdened and disconnected from their own values. Amid these overwhelming circumstances, leaders are expected to make fast, rational decisions with a focused, clear, compassionate and creative mind.

Mindfulness training is often associated with meditation practice – but it has become much, much more than that. Mindfulness is defined as ‘paying attention in the present moment, non-judgmentally’. Mindfulness harnesses our capacity to be aware of what is going on in our bodies, our minds, and our hearts … as we maneuver in an unavoidable sea of constantly changing events which demands that we change and adapt, often at lightning speed. This demand by the environment for us to continually change and adapt can, and most often does, create stress.

Stress is a relational transaction between our self and our environment during which we perceive and appraise events as threatening — in that they are over-taxing to us in some way. Changing the way we see ourselves in relationship to these stress-triggering events can actually alter the events themselves.

We have an innate desire for stability, although life itself requires that we must be in continuous change-mode. Mindfulness is a way to train the mind, but also includes paying attention to the body and the world around us, and helps us recognize that we are not a slave to our thoughts, but rather, we can choose how we respond.

There is plenty of evidence, including from the mental health arena and the field of neuroscience, showing how mindfulness can help reduce stress. The practice of mindfulness provides a way to cope with the challenges, complexities and ambiguity of our times. Studies indicate benefits such as heightened emotional intelligence, improved decision-making and strategic-thinking abilities, a heightened ability to focus, enhanced creativity, increased engagement in work, more energized and less anxious, and fewer symptoms of stress.

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What is Your Leadership Strength?

Have you ever wondered why you choose to behave a certain way?   To help answer this question, Tom Rath and Barry Conchie have classified leadership strengths into four domains: (1) executing (driver), (2) influencing (persuader), (3) strategic thinking (analyzer), and (4) relationship building, (stabilizer). So what does each of these domains mean? Suppose you identify with being an “analyzer”, or someone who is good at strategic thinking. People will experience your behaviour as cautious, careful, consistent, and diplomatic.

It is important to recognize that everyone has a behaviour preference that can be represented into one of these four domains.  You do however, have the ability to flex outside of your preference into other domains if you first acknowledge your own behaviour preference and the preferences of others. You determine your behaviour preference by how you choose to see the world around you.

Your strength domain increases your potential for success by bringing what you believe to be true from your inside into a congruent alignment to your daily outer world of life events. It shapes the way you function in the critical areas of performance, such as communication, visioning, processing information, thinking creatively, managing emotions, aligning of core value or beliefs, and relating to others.

Having awareness of your dominant strength as well as the other strengths in those around you is essential in leading others under times of stress, change, fatigue and chaos. In other words, if ever there was a time to have this knowledge and expertise, now is it – as we all struggle to manage and lead in a pandemic world.

Your behaviour strengths connect you to who you are, what you believe, and how you choose to behave.  As you gain awareness of your individual behaviour strengths, you can then use them for the optimal outcome in relationships and performance.

Furthermore, if you are going to become an effective leader, you must understand the power of collaboration and connection so you can create a team composed of people who have strengths in all four domains. In this blend and balance of strengths, you will be able to propel those around you and your organization to a higher level of performance.

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Learning from HeartMath

Well over 20 years ago Doc Childre and a group of 30 researchers and entrepreneurs gathered to explore the connection between the metaphorical and physical heart, and in 1991 they formed the Institute of HeartMath (IHM) as a nonprofit research and educational organization with a core mission of facilitating a shift in health, wellbeing and consciousness. In 1998, HeartMath LLC launched to commercialize the trainings developed by the Institute. And in 2002, Quantum Intech incorporated to develop and license emWave technology.

HeartMath has been at the forefront of delivering measurable results to improve employee productivity, health and performance since the early 1990s by focusing on unique, scientifically-validated programs that are proven to help individuals manage stress in the workplace. They continue to look at how chronic stress adversely impacts human health by increasing the likelihood of developing disease and medical problems leading to soaring healthcare costs.

Through the collaboration of cardiologists, system theorists and neuroscientists, they have built on their research on the connection between the heart and the Autonomic Nervous System and created tools and effective protocols, to help people effectively manage stress and anxiety, focusing on human energy and heart-brain synchronization, as well as the body’s natural regenerative processes, and mental and emotional stability.

Relatively recent research in the neurosciences has shown there is a continuous looping and re-looping of energy both positive and negative, between our two dominant human energy fields — the heart and the brain. And it is this looping and re-looping of energy that makes each of us a unique individual. Studies show that when our energy is positive we are experiencing positive thoughts and feelings such as kindness, happiness, optimism and love….and on the flip side when thoughts and/or feelings are negative (like, anger, frustration, jealousy, and cynicism) … our energy is also negative. We can use our skill of Positive Presence to create the necessary positive energy loop.

Much of the research in this field was pioneered by the Institute of HeartMath including evidence that positive emotions create coherence within our personal heart-field and coherent wave frequencies within our torus energy field around us. Only coherent wave frequencies are able to overlap and reinforce each other, thereby gaining strength and giving strength to other coherent wave-forms. So it is that positive emotion (positive thoughts and feelings) brings with it an increased ability to ‘connect’ and ‘mesh’ with others …. an increased ability to work together, and an increased propensity for organizational synergy.

In all of today’s work environments, understanding the role positive human energy plays in the performance and wellness of your workforce, is a key element to creating and maintaining a culture for success.

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Focus On Behaviour, Not Technical Skills

It is behaviour and relationship skills that bring out the technical competencies and enable the job of a leader to be done well. At higher levels of leadership (e.g., chief executives), technical skills are even less important than good behaviour and relationship-building ability. The reason for that is the work of senior leaders is more strategic than operational.

Look at the number of highly capable leaders in politics, business, and non-profit sectors who have failed. The root cause has not been their lack of talent, desire, ambition, enthusiasm, passion, agility, and other qualities. What sends these otherwise successful leaders hurtling toward the ground is their poor behaviour. They become so insulated by their sense of self-worth and value that they lose sight of how they relate to others and they get separated from those who can give them honest feedback.

Behavioural attributes (including interrelations ability), commonly and incorrectly referred to as “soft skills,” are really the “hard skills” that enable the leader to become self-aware, collaborative, and connective. Employees’ low morale, refusal to engage in their work, distrust of management, lack of motivation, and poor performance are always linked to their leaders’ consistent display of negative behaviour. In today’s world it is easier to overlook someone’s technical shortcomings than poor interpersonal skills, that is why a leader’s behaviour is the most important predictor of organizational performance.

We do not live or work in isolation. Nearly everything of value we do in our lives requires us to connect and collaborate well with other people in highly effective relationships. This can be no more true for leaders who must develop these highly effective relationships to be individually successful and to lead their organizations to greatness. Research in the neurosciences is confirming the necessity for a new way of thinking and being – the kind that creates positive human energy within us and around us – the kind created using our skill of Positive Presence.

When it comes to relationships, the challenge is that we often expect more from them than we are willing to invest. You do not get the relationships you hope for, rather the relationships you are willing to work for– how people respond to you is a function of how they experience you in your behaviour. Behaviour is a choice so choose wisely!

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New Learning for Connection

In the developed world, our organizations are now composed primarily of knowledge workers– people who are highly educated and experts in their individual fields, and who need each other’s mind and skill in order to achieve organizational goals.  These people are too smart to accept top down dictatorship and to believe that a few at the top know what it will take for success.  There has never been a time in history for employee engagement to reach exponential levels of motivation as there is today.  With the right leadership, the knowledge work force will be able to reach successes never dreamed of.

So what will the ‘right’ leadership look like?  Unfortunately, there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer, but on the other hand, leadership qualities can be found and developed in everyone, at every level of the organization.  For success in today’s fast-paced ever-changing global environment, leadership will be about managing the individual flow of energy and information in a quick and efficient manner.  Information at the front lines will need to be relayed in real time to the top in order for barriers to be removed, opportunities to be grasped, and strategies to be adjusted to accommodate the environment in real time.

At the big-picture level, leaders and managers must learn to be effective conduits of information, both tangible and non-tangible alike, in an environment of safety and respect.  Successful organizations will be a continuous looping and re-looping of information, feedback and adjustment.  Organizations will have to flatten right out so that information is being transmitted quickly and efficiently.  Managers will be the eyes and ears between where the work is being done and where the strategy is evolving.  Power lines for informed decision-making will have to be free of bureaucratic static and barriers, and it will be up to managers to become experts at mitigating the bureaucracy that often weighs down efficiency.

For efficient information transfer and sharing there will need to be high levels of cooperation, coordination and collaboration among leaders of all ranks to ensure information is communicated clearly, succinctly, and consistently through all channels.  This level of communication will require highly effective relationships and a special connectivity among organizational leaders.  It will require the type of connectivity that only comes with an understanding of emotional human energy that leads to connectedness – how it works; how it evolves; and the behaviours needed to get there.

We need to look to the neurosciences and the plethora of evidence that is coming forth using advanced neuro-imaging technology within the realm of cognitive behaviour (among others).  And then we have to develop the necessary cognitive and behavioural skills in our leaders, beginning with the skill of Positive Presence.  These skills are paramount to leading with high levels of connectivity, and these skills must be continuously accounted for and supported through the overarching organizational culture.

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Communication – The KPI for Collaboration

Much of the communication in today’s organizations entails an exchange, wherein all parties involved must act as both giver and recipient of information. This exchange ensures that the information is received and the recipient has an opportunity to express agreement, disagreement, confusion, understanding, need for clarification or any other response. Ineffective communication results when a breakdown in this exchange occurs, and this breakdown can be exacerbated when we overuse, or improperly use, electronic means of delivery. As we all have experienced at one point or another, devices crash, we lose connection, emails go unread in overfilled inboxes, spam filters block messages, or most importantly the message fails to ‘register’ and our human nuances deliver an unintended communication.

Communication starts and stops all effective collaborations. Some of the causes of ineffective communication are a mixture of both organizational and human factors. Time pressures, work stress, a multilayered corporate structure, language incompatibilities, and information overload are cited as some of the organizational related causes. The human factors are mental, behavioural and emotional.

One of the most important ways leaders can practice effective communication is to continuously and consistently express their intent or vision for the direction of their team, department or organization. A leader’s intent, clearly and effectively communicated, allows all team members to understand not only what is expected of them in their individual performance, but how their individual performance impacts the overall goals and daily mission of the entire organization. What’s more, team members need to be able to share vital information without fear of experiencing intimidation, retaliation, or rude, demeaning, and condescending behaviour. They also need to be able to ask questions without being made to feel inferior and uneducated.

Brain science has confirmed for us that effective communications can only occur within a positive organizational culture where all parties are open and willing to listen and participate. It is important for all parties at all levels to be coming from a perspective of positivity and collaboration in order to connect with others and learn from each other. So it is that the skill of Positive Presence and Positive Presence Behaviour Competencies will be paramount for future success.

Successful leadership of the future will require a complete culture shift to a new leadership mindset of socialness and connectivity that shares a common language throughout the organization. It will be a culture shift to a ‘learning environment’ workplace, with a deep need for all employees to see the value in being self-directed and taking a leadership role in their own learning through daily work experience in a safe, respectful, and participant-centered environment for learning. Remember, a learning mind is a healthy mind.

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Self-Awareness: The Basic Competency

In our ever-increasing competitive business climate, organizations continue to seek any advantage that will give them edge on their competition. Many have found that one solution is to improve their leadership culture. To do that you must begin with self-awareness training. You see, organizational culture is nothing more than how people work together for a common purpose. And, if individual leaders’ beliefs and values do not match organizational core values, then negativity and disruption will reign.

As the saying goes, and it’s true, “leadership is everything”, so it follows that leadership behaviour is the singular most important predictor to organizational performance. And it’s not so much what the leader says but how the leader behaves that matters most regarding individual and organizational performance. While this may seem a vague or daunting task, there are crucial steps you can take to ensure that you have charted a course for success.

There are great consultant firms out there to help, but maybe most important is introducing the skill of ‘Positive Presence’ to your leaders and your workforce. ‘Positive Presence’ is a new way of thinking and being – it is a specific kind of mindset that leads to productive and strength-giving workplace behaviour. Science has proven that a positive and energized mindset is necessary for individuals to work collaboratively.

Here’s something to try: Think about all the people who have had leadership responsibility and authority over you. Who inspired, believed, and encouraged you? Did these leaders see the positive qualities in you and support and grow those qualities? Did these leaders’ behaviour match their words? Now think about the people whose behaviours had a negative impact on you and your leadership development. Did these leaders do the ‘corporate talk’ and then display behaviours that contradicted their words? Or even worse, were their words and actions both so negative that they destroyed motivation and morale? This simple exercise emphasizes the impact that people in leadership positions have and the importance of having self-awareness.

Effective leaders are kind, considerate, honest, respectful, and trustworthy, among many other inspiring traits, all of which are positive in nature. Sadly, far too many leaders are the exact opposite, and they are unaware of how they come across to their peers and subordinates. As a result, they do not realize that their negative behaviour contributes to lack of trust, loss of credibility, and the high cost of poor performance and low productivity. Worse, some leaders intentionally behave badly and are protective of those negative traits, thinking they cause no harm.

By learning about the self, leaders become comfortable with their internal values, beliefs, preferences, thought processes, and emotions. They become self-managers, careful about how they present themselves and respond to the outside world. A self-aware leader knows the importance of creating a positive and energized mindset and of helping others to do the same. A self-aware leader then is in a better position to collaborate and connect with others, unlike a leader who is unaware of her/his true self. At some point in their journey a self-aware leader acquires the skill of Positive Presence and the behaviour competencies of Positive Presence … but self-awareness is where it starts.

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An Audacious Idea

At Corporate Harmony.ca we have a Moonshot, an “audacious idea”. Our Vision is to eliminate bad stress from every workplace around the globe and in doing so turn the tide on the neglect of mental health on a global scale.

We will disrupt the leadership development industry and the professional development industry as it relates to public service, healthcare, education and higher education, manufacturing and transportation.

We will connect the dots for people between their neuro-chemical electro-magnetic energy and their workplace.

We will introduce and teach a new skillset – the skill of Positive Presence. We will provide a cutting edge business development strategy. And we will present a new age philosophy for workplaces around the world.

Please share our vision with anyone and everyone – the more we share the idea, the closer we are to achieving our dream.

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