Recently my 8 year old son had to do a project on inventions. The task was to interview a grandparent or someone older about an invention that had the biggest influence on their lives and then research and present on it. My son decided to interview a wonderful gentleman in our building who is 94 years old and most definitely considered a special grand friend (GF). After much consideration our GF said that the radio was the invention that most influenced his life. As a young boy being able to hear the cricket and follow Don Bradman’s achievements from his living room sparked his imagination and curiosity about the world.
During the conversation though, GF said he had a tricky time picking that one invention because so much has happened in his lifetime that was truly wondrous. In fact he thought that it may be that everything truly wonderful (radio, TV , space travel and the internet) has come to pass. What could possibly be in our future that would cause us to feel such wonder and astonishment?
This got me worried. Was he right? Could that be the case? So I started to think about wonder in my own life. When did I last feel wonder? Or had been amazed by something?
I realized that I have actually experienced wonder this year and in the most unlikely places…Boardrooms, networking lunches, conferences, workshops and breakfast seminars. In the places where corporate Australia gathers to learn, network , strategize, plan and discuss business, people are practicing mindfulness together.
Mindfulness is a mental state of increased focus, heightened awareness and openness. It is inspired by the Buddhist tradition of meditation and some say it came into the mainstream in the west as a result of a book “The Miracle of Mindfulness" by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk once nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King Jr.
It is showing up in the business environments because of the reams of academic research that is emerging from Universities around the world showing the many benefits for not only improving performance, engagement and creativity but also for greater health and happiness. Research shows that the practice of mindful leadership cultivates the traits of clarity, focus, creativity and compassion. If you are keen to have a closer look at the research check out: https://goamra.org
Leaders are starting meetings with ‘quiet time’; a moment to become present to the people and task at hand. They are inviting people to really come into the room and into the meeting fully. A few moments of quiet with closed eyes. Time to observe the breath.
This trend was covered in a recent article in the Australian Financial Review” showing how this is being embraced by many organizations in Australia not only corporations but in sporting and education sectors as well. http://www.afr.com/p/business/companies/keep_calm_and_carry_interest_business_mIJZMCSTHW7w16u9mjWhHI
I believe the trend has really taken hold as we become aware of the negative impact that technology can have on our ability concentrate and focus.
To see these simple practices show up in the corporate environment has caused me to feel amazed every time it happens.
Some of my corporate experiences in the past were less than ideal to put it mildly and without a doubt the practice of mindfulness would have made a difference. Overtime if the trend continues to grow I think we will see kinder and calmer work environments resulting in greater engagement and productivity.
Not only has it caused wonder, It has also caused me to feel hope. When leadership comes from a place that is mindful and centered it becomes more authentic which has the potential to create ripples of authenticity and courage that flow out from the workplace and into our lives as well.
Our special neighbor, GF, went on to have a long career as a journalist because of that wondrous invention called Radio and to this day he writes letters to the editor and blogs on many topics. He maintains a wonderful spark of curiosity for life and the world, which I find very inspiring.
Without a doubt we all need a little wonder and hope in our lives.
Wishing you a mindful Christmas and joyful new year and I hope for you that wonders never cease.