In the last two decades, there have been thousands of studies released about the benefits of mindfulness. These benefits range from stress relief and mental well-being, to focus, creativity, and productivity. Here are some ways you can put mindfulness into action in your workplace.
Mindful confidence is important at work because the metrics you use to evaluate your confidence directly affect the way you act and interact with others at work. One way to visualize this is through the mindfulness concept called “Circle of Concern/Circle of Control” (see image below). The Circle of Concern is filled with things that you cannot control, such as the weather and what people think of you. On the other hand, the Circle of Control is filled with things that you can control, such as how you respond to situations or the actions you take.
Healthy and mindful confidence means shifting your confidence to rely less upon items found within the Circle of Concern and more upon those in the Circle of Control. If your sense of confidence is based on looking smart in meetings or how often you get promoted, your confidence will forever be subject to the ups and downs of life. For example, one year you get promoted, the next you get passed over. Or your perhaps your confidence spirals if you accidentally say something ‘stupid’ in a meeting.
Imagine you are an early-in-career employee walking into a meeting. You are the most junior person there, and the least familiar with the technical concepts. However, you can still walk in with a sense of confidence because you know that you can always contribute with your curiosity, listening, or compassion. This way, your confidence is rooted in your internal qualities, which you can always control and choose to apply in any situation. Your self-worth is not based upon others perception of your skills or experience. As a result, you can openly contribute to any scenario.
Mindful confidence is even more important for leaders and managers in an organization. When a manager is leading a meeting, it is easy to tell whether their confidence is based in survival instincts or in their values. A leader in “survival mode” will care most about “saying the right thing”, the approval of others, looking good, being liked, being “right”, being seen as smart or in control. Their confidence rises and falls by the judgments of others – particularly their superiors - and they are in a constant chase for things that are out of their control. Through mindfulness training, a leader can learn to notice when they fall into survival mode, and to remind themselves of their values – i.e. being of service to their goal, being the person who makes sure all voices are heard, being someone who approaches each problem with curiosity and an open mind. Moving confidence out from the Circle of Concern into the Circle of Control opens up a whole new way of being. When a leader roots themselves in their values, it no longer matters to them how they look or who is right – they free themselves from being judged by others and thereby take back control.
“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own…” – Epictetus
If you lead a team at work, pause and think about the values and aspirations you hold for your team. HR professionals can encourage and coach leaders, managers, and employees to be more mindful. Helping people to understand what activities and behaviors are in the circle of control and how to widen that circle to include more. Mindful confidence is a particularly useful skill to develop in new leaders and for early-in-career employees. Mindfulness in general is great to consider for individuals and teams under schedule pressure or in ambiguous situations. There is a lot of value to understanding – being mindful – of what’s in your circle of control.
In your meetings today, can you find a place to realign the confidence of the team away from how they are being judged and towards the strengths they have developed through their hard work? Where is a place in your daily life that you can realign some of the foundations of your confidence away from the things you cannot control to the things you can?