Mindfulness can sometimes start to feel like eating your greens, going for a run, or drinking eight glasses of water a day. We all know we're supposed to do it, we vaguely remember reading a study by Someone Important saying that it's great to do it... But the reality is that for many of us it's the first thing that slips down the list when we're feeling anything less than 100% virtuous.
In fact, the concept can start to feel like something of a Should.
Well, it turns out that if there's a part of your brain that wants to run around like a toddler or drift pleasantly into a daydream for a couple of hours at the mere mention of mindfulness, you could be on to something.
Senior Coach and Consultant Jackie Smith is our resident 'Spirit Level', and for good reason. If clients or organisations find themselves tipping out of balance, she's the first to bring them back to level. So it's unsurprising that Jackie's interest was pricked by the article we're posting today – it looks at whether the pursuit of mindfulness can go too far.
The author, Jonathan Schooler, shares some surprising findings about the benefits of letting the mind wander. In fact, the research quoted here indicates that there are situations in which not focusing on the task at hand might be the very best way of encouraging creative epiphanies and new approaches to problem solving! In one study, researchers found that:
"... having participants spend a brief period of time on an undemanding task that maximizes mind wandering improved their subsequent performance on a test of creativity.”
– Jonathan Schooler
So if your role involves creativity, learning new things, or making lateral connections, then mindfulness might actually hinder you from having the epiphanies that you're chasing.
It's a helpful reminder that whatever the latest buzzword is, it's worth approaching it with a healthy slice of common sense. Paying attention to what works for you, in your business, is worth more than a thousand articles on increasing productivity or brain power.
Adding to a long list of things you should be doing – without thinking about why they might be needed – is a trap it's all too easy to fall into. It's a coach's job to interrogate those assumptions; to ask the hard questions; it's what our Forward-Thinking Leader clients know will propel them forwards and stop them getting bogged down in choice.
Over to you
To what extent is this a picture of you – or someone you know? Do you find mindfulness a helpful concept in the business world, or is your role one which requires you to let your mind wander? Come over to Twitter and let us know.
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