Mindfulness Matters


My cell phone rings, and I look down to see 7 new voicemails. As I check to see who’s called I see 108 new email messages, 5 appointments on my calendar, and my bloated “to do” list. I can feel my stomach tighten as I consider where and when I’m going to fit in everything. All while I’m preparing for a meeting that will invariably lead to 5 or 6 new projects…

Sound familiar? Life in the info-tech age keeps getting faster and faster. Sure, you can choose to ignore it, but what opportunities (or problems) just popped up that ring of urgency and that you just can’t miss?

However, I’ve learned over the years that when I feel my stomach tighten, my temples throb, and my mind races while I prioritize and organize that it’s time to take a short break. It’s time to center myself. I turn off the devices, the tablet and laptop (yeah scary, right?), tap Pandora on my phone to find my favorite station, and find a comfortable sitting position. I close my eyes and step out of my thoughts. As each new stress-related thought pops into my head, I imagine putting it in the basket of a hot air balloon and watching it float away. I run through a tension-relaxation exercise while keeping my mind open and free. If I’m close to my belongings I’ll pull out a soothing scent and allow my mind to wander through all of the wonderful, calm memories that are prompted. I try not to focus on time, but rather recognize my level of relaxation. On a scale of 1 – 10 (10 meaning high stress, 1 meaning no stress) I may start out an 8 or 9, and I take the time to get myself to at least a 3. Sometimes that happens in 10 minutes and sometimes I need 20. Then I slowly bring myself out of the exercise noticing how I’m feeling and imagining my feet firmly planted back on the ground.

Have I wasted valuable time that I could have been responding to emails, returning phone calls, or reorganizing my calendar? No, I have not. With renewed energy I’m much more efficient at organizing my thoughts. I’m more effective in responding to the messages I’ve been sent. I feel as if I have better control over my thoughts, feelings, and emotions – and with that control I can make better decisions. Even more impressive is that I’m calm and relaxed when I walk into meetings, and am better able to listen to others, and focus on what others are thinking and feeling. This means I’ll be even more mindful about how I interact and inspire others to action.

This IS mindfulness. And the nice thing about mindfulness, is that as you practice skills related to mindfulness your emotional intelligence peaks as well. You don’t have to follow the example illustrated above – but it’s a template for a few strategies you may use if you haven’t tried others you prefer. Take the opportunity today and give yourself those 10, 20, or 30 minutes you need. Then spend a little time throughout your day noticing anything that happens differently.

And if something amazing happens, don’t be shy. Shoot me an email – because I love amazing stories!

Until next time,
Dr. Todd

The nexus: Where organizational excellence and emotional intelligence meet.

Being a Psychologist… or as I was recently humorously coined a “Corporate Psychologist,” I have been asked a number of times what I focus on the most when working with executives and/or organizations. While I have used intelligence tests, personality inventories, general organizational scales and ability scales, the reality is that my intuition takes these smaller snapshots into account as I look towards the underlying emotional intelligence. So what is emotional intelligence? To begin with, let me clarify by saying that I have heard a variety of folks interpret the definition of emotional intelligence to fit whatever they believe an organization (or individual) would look like if he/she/it were emotionally intelligent… In other words the meaning has been diluted by its popularity as a catchy “coach” phrase. However, at it’s core, emotional intelligence is: a) the ability to be self-aware of your feelings/emotions, b) the ability to manage/control/use those feelings and emotions, c) the ability to read other’s feelings/emotions, and d) the ability to manage/use/lead by using emotionally intelligent strategies in assisting others with their feelings/emotions when it comes to thoughts and behavior – especially leadership.

Interestingly, these are skill sets that we in the psychological arena have explored in the footsteps of thinkers like Carl Rogers and Irving Yalom. And so it is that the foundations of business and psychology find a nexus. However, not surprisingly the nexus, if we consider the heart of any business being the configuration of people involved. Groups, teams, sections, divisions, departments, executives – call each part what you will – are not only dependent on their group emotional intelligence (and the emotional intelligence of each individual in their respective groups), but play a significant roll in the organization being something greater than simply the sum of its parts.

Which is why the art of targeting and tailoring emotional intelligence within an organization through a psychological lens is our mission here at Prosperity. This can include work with executives who are committed to increasing their emotional intelligence or work with an executive team who knows that their overall contribution to the organization will be greater with increased team emotional intelligence. The same applies to staff at any level, and the group or department irrespective of function (ie., HR, IT, Operations, Finance). Let’s not forget the Board of Directors! Yes, I know boards are many times composed of volunteer or appointed members, but they, too, benefit greatly from emotional intelligence that will lead to valuable decision making when hiring the next chief executive officer or while developing their strategic plan for the future of the organization.

Is your interest piqued yet? You don’t have to take my word for it. Forbes magazine online quoted Terry Bradberry of Talentsmart as saying their studies discovered, “alongside 33 other important workplace skills, emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining 58% of success in all types of jobs.” Let’s put emotional intelligence to work for you and your organization!

Until next time,
Dr. Todd