Mindfulness and the stress of business

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” ― Steve Jobs

If you work in a business, at some point you are going to have to sit in front of your colleagues and present an update on the business. Whether this is yearly, quarterly or even monthly, this is the beating of the company business review cycle. I have worked in organisations where the reviews can be any and all of the above. I think probably, the only company where this does not happen with such rigor, is if you run your own one person company.

I am in the current company review cycle. The normal process is to review current performance for the month that has just past and to then predict what will happen the following month. However, every quarter, there is the quarterly review, where the focus is on the next three to six months and to forward plan the business results. Now, this takes time, skill, lots of effort and understanding of the business. And, unless you are in a guaranteed utility business  where the run rate of the business can be predicted over a long time scale – say years – requires a degree of, how can I put it, guess work.

So how can mindfulness play into this? For the past six months, I have been deliberately practicing a series of mindfulness exercises during this preparation period and even more so, on the day of the review. The reason is twofold: to help me reduce the tension and stress of the review and more importantly: enable me to be more focused in both the preparation and delivery of the review.

How does it work? For the three or four days leading up the final meeting I do the following. Firstly, I get up early. Well, if you are like me, your mind is going to going at a 100mph anyway, so why on earth stay in bed and ruminate when you can be doing something about it. I practice mindfulness movement exercises and focus really hard on the movements to still the mind. Secondly, I practice a forgiving meditation – this I will cover in a separate post. The combination eases my mind and at the same time, makes me feel more calm as I carry out the review.

So what is Mindful Movement? A short explanation follows:-

Mindful Movement: You want to start at the top of the body, with head and neck movements. Next you move onto the shoulders and the arms. Finally you move down the body to the feet. I base mine on the audio CD of the book “Mindfulness: Finding peace in a frantic world”, though you may have your own approach.

One of the areas it has helped me to identify is where I have a stress related pain. Generally, in my neck and shoulder area. It has helped me to “lean into that area” as the exercise suggests. First, recognising that the pain is there and also the reason for the pain – the stress. Next, it asks you to accept the pain and move into the pain, exploring with kindness, what that pain is. I know this sounds really weird, but trust me, give it a try for a few days and it really, really works.

The website with the guide notes and also an audio of the exercise is in the link below. Please do try it out, it makes such a difference. I would like to thank the following people at work: Alka, Becky, Carla, Verity and Paul. Your questions and discussion on Mindfulness last week prompted this post. I hope it helps you all as well.

http://franticworld.com/free-meditations-from-mindfulness/

http://cdn.franticworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/03-Mindful-Movement-Meditation.mp3

Exercise audio instructions

I leave you with the following quote:

“Our life is made up of time; our days are measured in hours, our pay measured by those hours, our knowledge is measured by years. We grab a few quick minutes in our busy day to have a coffee break. We rush back to our desks, we watch the clock, we live by appointments. And yet your time eventually runs out and you wonder in your heart of hearts if those seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years and decades were being spent the best way they possibly could. In other words, if you could change anything, would you?” Cecelia Ahern, Love, Rosie