I don't know about you but across all industries and workplaces at the moment there's a weird and fast approaching feeling. Everything you hear and read is about change and challenge, Agility Quota (AQ), big data, Watson, AI, BOTs,VR, Gen Z, disruption, Uber, Amazon, technology and the workforce of the future...it’s coming, it’s coming! Well, this buzz word bingo is real, it is here and it is going to continue advancing and changing how we live, what we thought we knew about work and how we will need to do things in the future. I liken it to being a snowball rolling down a hill, getting bigger and bigger as it gathers momentum; it's exciting and terrifying all at the same time and it’s forcing me to stop and ask: "what will help us successfully navigate the future?"
It makes sense that we will need to adopt a growth mindset and be open to learning, with the volume of new technology being introduced there will be a need for us to be comfortable adapting quickly and test and learn as we go, we will be required to think outside the square, take risks and be more be curious than ever before. But in order to keep ahead of this snowball I believe that it will be equally as important for us to be more human than ever before! This means that interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence (EQ) and resilience will be essential.
As we move forward we will constantly need to figure out huge volumes of new information, adapt to new ways of living and working, as well as discover how we can collaborate with people and technology differently. If you are not able to recognise how you are feeling, thinking and impacting others then all this change can easily stop you from taking on any new information and you are more likely to feel stressed and overwhelmed as well as erode the trust and performance of others.
Believe me I’ve been there, a few years ago I was in a situation which forced a huge amount of change, I was faced with high volumes of new information, a vastly increased work load and in my determination to perform, I neglected to notice that I was starting to burn out. I struggled to make decisions that usually came easily for me and I was unable to step back and think clearly... I remember it feeling at the time like my brain was wading through mud with gumboots on!
I've also recognised similar patterns and behaviours emerge within some of my coaching clients: this being that normally confident, capable and high performing people are starting to feel stuck and overwhelmed as the world of work is rapidly changing, they are constantly being challenged with new technology and making decisions about uncharted plains, they’re expected to work tactically and strategically; move at speed and be creative; have work-life balance whilst all the time having to be contactable 24/7.
"What do I think will positively impact our performance and attitude as we try to successfully navigate this future of disruption?"
The answer is simple, it’s to remain present.
Neuroscience research has shown us that there are a number of things that happen in our brains when faced with a perceived threat we experience what’s known as an ‘Amygdala Hijack’ – The amygdala is the trigger point for the fight, flight, or freeze response. 75% of the time our brains are wired to scan for threat or risk and in this modern world threats could be that new piece of technology, the volume of work or just simply being called into an unknown meeting. This stimulus means that the body then gets flooded with stress hormones that prepare us for an emergency and take control of the brain stopping the connection to the prefrontal cortex which is where our rational thinking occurs. Therefore it’s extremely important to widen the gap between stimulus and response and one way to do this is through mindfulness.
Earlier this year I decided to find out what being mindful really meant and I enrolled in an MBSR mindfulness course. I had concerns before I went that it might be all about hugging trees, wearing kaftans and burning joss sticks, thankfully it wasn't! Although I can't deny there is a lot of meditation ... oops sorry I should say mindfulness practice... so much so that I actually attended a full day at a silent retreat (which for those of you that know me well, understand it would have been no mean feat!! ) - however, I made a commitment to see the programme through and considered each mindfulness practice as a mental work out, every time I consciously brought my attention back it was like my brain was doing reps at a gym! Each time it was rewiring my neuron-pathways. I was amazed with the results over the weeks, it was easier to clear my mind from constant "noise" that work and life throws at us; it increased my concentration, enabled clarity for decision making and most importantly created space to take in new information. It also created the space to be able to check in on how I was feeling and continued to build my EQ and personal resilience, enabling me to be more human!
I’ve now integrated aspects of mindfulness into my coaching practice and seen successful results with the focus, performance and conscious leadership of others.
So, “what are the small things you can do to stay present in the future?”
Make time for yourself... that could mean to simply read, study, learn or do the things that just make you happy, but do it consciously
Commit to mindful practise... research says that after only 8 weeks you'll notice the difference
Breath... stop your mind running away and take the time to bring yourself into the present. Think about your breathing... this is a great practice as you walk between meetings
Connect with a coach/mentor to keep you on track
· Seek the support of a coach, https://www.positivedirection.co.nz/
· Corporate mindfulness training, Debbie Shultz, http://www.blueskyminds.org/
· Individual practice:https://palousemindfulness.com/MBSR/week0.html
· Apps: smiling mind, insight timer
· Read: Search inside yourself; by Chade Meng Tan, a former software engineer and motivator at Google