By Jay Forte
Everyone is talking about mindfulness, but we can’t truly gain the benefits of being mindful unless we’re clear on what it is. So, let’s start with a couple of quick definitions:
- Awareness means paying attention on purpose, in the current moment, without judgment. In other words, awareness means paying attention, intentionally tuning in to be present to gather the information that is in front of you.
- Mindfulness, in my definition, means using that information to seek out, create and act in a way that can make your next moment more effective.
Awareness provides the information; mindfulness uses it to be better or to make better decisions.
A couple of examples.
Let’s say you have to talk to your son about something that happened at school. When you are aware of his body language and emotions, you can then better assess what and how to respond, leading to a more successful outcome. By being aware, and using that awareness, you can choose on purpose what and how to respond. Without this awareness, you could mindlessly react and miss the opportunity to accurately assess the challenge and work with him to come up with a solution that works.
Let’s say you are in a meeting with your team. When you stop and notice who is contributing and who isn’t, you’re tapping into an awareness that creates the ability for you to be mindful – to intentionally bring in the more introverted members of your team with a focused question or invitation to contribute. If you are unaware of who contributes because you are plowing through your agenda, you will miss the opportunity to activate the thinking of your more timid employees.
See, the challenge we all have is that we spend most of our time in our habits, doing what we always do and unaware we are doing it. To become more present and aware, we have to interrupt our habits to be able to gather the information in this moment, to mindfully use it to make our next moment better.
Enter the Post-it note.
A well-placed Post-it note with an important message for you can act as a great interruption to pull you out of habit mode. The Post-it note might say, “pay attention,” or “stop multitasking,” or “ask questions,” or “everyone contributes,” or even “go walk around and talk to your employees.”
You create the message you need to be reminded of and where to place it to be sure it gets your attention to interrupt your habits. This encourages you to be more aware, more mindful and more intentional in your actions.
Because your brain is powerful, it will soon look right past your Post-it note. So change out the colors regularly or move your note reminders to different locations, all within view. The benefit is that you will create an awareness and mindfulness tool to help you tune in, pay better attention and choose more wisely because you have given yourself the ability to see and consider what you regularly miss.
Start today. Leave Post-it notes in areas that will get your attention, with messages that will remind you and encourage you to be more aware, so you can be more mindful. Where are you going to put your first three Post-it notes?