Find Your July: Be a Mindful Leader All Year Long

Find Your July: Be a Mindful Leader All Year Long

Too many stressed-out executive leaders are waiting for their July vacation before they can relax into the now and let go of their worries. The problem is, there aren’t enough July vacations to make up for the amount of stress we face the rest of the year. Waiting from one July to the next is excruciating, and when we do get there, there’s so much pressure on it to be great—to save us from the rest of our life—that it doesn’t do its job of relaxing us. So we have to find that relaxation in everyday life.

It’s not about getting to July. It’s about finding our July—anytime, anywhere.

I sometimes go for meditation walks, where I’ll grab onto a certain quote that I want to think about, or I’ll just tune into the strike of my foot and my breathing. Recently, as I was on one of these meditation walks along Portland’s waterfront park, I happened upon a bench and saw this statement carved into the wood: “We are blessed to be living.”

In that moment, I was struck with the realization that I was looking “out there” to make peace with my life. I was thinking about stressors and concerns as if they were out in front of me. I was meditating, but still felt somewhat removed.

This graffiti prophet inspired me to just sit in the power of being alive. This statement reminded me to look closer, to just take a moment and feel what it is to be alive. It’s right here, and it’s enough.

If you try it, you’ll undoubtedly notice it doesn’t take long to feel the energy and optimism that comes from just being in that moment.

I frequently see this dynamic play out with the executives I coach. Like most of us, they’re bombarded with ideas, words, and information; it’s rare that they can get away from what they think and feel. But that’s the stuff that’s “out there.” I try to help them follow the trail inward.

Of course, we talk about what’s happening with their staff and their workload, but if we stay on a cognitive level, the experience and learning are limited. So, we go inward. I start the facilitation through questions—“Tell me what’s happening for you right now? How are you feeling about that right now?” And, then I give them a moment of pause. I simply sit with them as a non-anxious presence. Sitting with them in that quiet space has transformative power. Their thinking might become focused. Their anxiety around the issue might dissipate. And it’s not because their outside circumstances have changed, but because they’ve dropped into the now.

They’ve found their July. When leaders develop this in-the-now presence for themselves, they can then carry it out into their workplace.

If an entire leadership team is committed to “finding their July” throughout the day, they’re undoubtedly going to transfer that energy throughout the corporation. Imagine the powerful effect that can have.

And then, when they and their employees really get to take that July vacation, it’ll be that much more meaningful and restful. Anybody can find their July on a beach in Maui, but finding it in downtown Portland in cold, rainy November, that’s the hard part—and the beautiful part.

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As an organizational psychologist, Dan McArthur has worked with owners and top executives in a variety of organizations for 30 years. He is at his best when the obstructions to growth and harmony are not readily observable. He has an amazing ability to quickly build trust with all key players and support them as they move toward better self-management, leadership, healthy team dynamics, and increased productivity. (Learn more about Dan…)

 

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