September 6, 2018
by Tina Arnoldi
Mindfulness is a hot topic. Researchers study the impact of mindfulness on the brain, noting the positive changes, and advocates of the practice insist it improves their well-being. Mindfulness today is used for more than personal improvement as mindfulness programs have reached into the workplace. A study published in Journal of Occupational Health Psychology in August of this year found that participants in mindfulness training improved their focus at work and had a slight increase in job satisfaction.
Workplaces recognize the impact of mindfulness-based programs as a tool to manage stress and enhance resilience. Some app providers, such as Calm and Headspace, are expanding into the corporate space with employee memberships. We invited entrepreneurs to share their experience with mindfulness and how it pays off for them.
Beth Gerstein, co-Founder and co-CEO of Brilliant Earth, starts her day with a short meditation and chooses to walk to work. “The fresh air and movement make a big difference in my mental state – the walk allows me to daydream, take in my surroundings and think of new ideas.”
For James Dimovski, Chief Operating Officer/Founder of Gallant State, mindfulness is a core component of his days. It is key to “sustaining motivation and reducing stress whilst dealing with a busy schedule, particularly when I find myself procrastinating about a certain task.” James Pollard, with TheAdvisorCoach.com, agrees that practicing it throughout the day is part of his success. Before doing so, he would go through his day “like a zombie.” “I definitely wasn't as productive, because I wasn't as intentional with my activities.”
All responders to this inquiry agree the life of an entrepreneur is challenging. There are risks combined with long days. Summer Suleiman, of The Distillery, hosts retreats for entrepreneurs because anyone starting a business is “overwhelmed by the multitude of tasks they must tackle with with no blueprint on how to do so.”
Caleb Ellis, a Health and Wellness Expert, teaches mindfulness because it “increases your capacity to focus and think clearly in what is typically a hectic and fast-paced environment. Entrepreneurs gain a sense of clarity which can help their daily decision-making process as well as their ability to respond to unforeseen situations.” Recent behavioral and imaging research support these claims that mindfulness can improve decision-making.
The fast paced environment of an entrepreneur not only requires quick decision making, but also times of silence to generate new ideas. Sarah Moe, Co-Founder / Chief Happiness Officer of Flauk, agrees. Mindfulness “increases creativity and innovation. When you are able to silence your mind, you make room for new ideas.” Frances Geoghegan, with Healing Holidays, believes “It is [only] in this quiet state that truly innovative and effective ideas can spring into your mind; if you are just staring at a computer screen and forcing inspiration, it won’t come half as easily.”
Entrepreneurs may exude confidence to the outside observer, but that does not always reflect what they feel. They experience “negative self-talk and self-doubt … when pursuing an idea,” says Suleiman. She teaches mindfulness to entrepreneurs because it “helps them manage the significant amount of stress that comes with starting and growing a business by helping them improve focus, gain clarity in their entrepreneurial vision, and combat that potentially detrimental negative self-talk.” It can also indicate when it is time to recharge. Without this self-awareness, entrepreneurs "become burnt out, [make] terrible decisions and become overwhelmed with daily tasks that leads them and their businesses to failure,” says Dr. Daryl Cioffi, a licensed therapist
Whether a formal practice appeals to you or you simply take time to stop and notice what you are doing, mindfulness clearly has implications for personal and professionals well-being. Jonathan Denn, author of Drumbeat: Business Productivity Playbook, views mindfulness as creating a “great rhythm.” Being mindful “quiets the noise so you can hear the rhythm.”