It’s not easy existing in today’s fast-paced, complex, and dynamic work environment. We are required to remain focused in the face of a million distractions, to have clarity of mind to ensure we are doing the right things (not just doing “things”), and to remain calm in the midst of sometimes daily storms. When you add to that the fact that we are living high-pressure lives, expected to always be “on,” constantly overloaded with information, and prone to becoming easily distracted, it’s no wonder our heads are full. However, a full brain can be a major risk to our individual and organizational performance—and according to recent research, our attention is under siege.
In fact, a growing body of evidence suggests that nearly half of the time we are not truly paying attention to the tasks we’re doing or the people in front of us. From a human resource perspective, there is a lot of potential to be developed. Even just a small increase in “on-task” time could have a significant improvement in many aspects of work, including productivity, customer service, teamwork, safety, and anything else that would benefit from better focus and attention. Mindfulness is the key to increased attention and better outcomes.
Mindfulness has proven to be a crucial part of organizational excellence for hundreds of companies worldwide. Google, Microsoft, Nike, IKEA, and many others make use of it because they recognize the direct link between people’s attention and bottom-line results. In essence, if people aren’t paying attention to the right things, they waste time, energy, and money; if they are paying attention to the right things, but their quality of attention is poor, their work is inefficient at best and inferior at worst. Additionally, as our focus declines, so does our ability to prioritize. We end up spinning our wheels without truly moving anywhere. It can feel like an endless cycle and results in a slow decline in organizational performance.
Mindfulness is a mind in balance that sees reality as it is, while existing in a state of relaxation, focus, and clarity. The central characteristics of mindfulness are sharp focus and open awareness. Sharp focus is the ability to concentrate on any object of choice for as long as you need to with minimal effort. Sharp focus provides the benefit of being fully present with other people or tasks.
Open awareness is the ability to see clearly what is happening in your mind and make wise choices about where to focus your attention. Through open awareness, you gain clarity. The clutter from the outer world and from your own mind is reduced. As you become more insightful, even the most difficult problems appear less complex and become easier to handle. Optimal effectiveness is achieved when people are simultaneously focused and aware. This is the essence of being mindful and enjoying peak performance.
Mindfulness, ultimately, is a tool that can help us enhance our performance and effectiveness in everything we do. It is possible to train the brain to respond, rather than react, to our frenzied work lives and move toward a space of calm, clarity, efficiency, and effectiveness. Simply put, your level of focus can significantly determine your business performance and organizational outcomes. How invested are you in managing your attention optimally to achieve the results you seek?
Interested in learning more? Join us in Denver at the ATD 2016 Conference & Exposition for the session: Toward Excellence: Training the Mind to Enhance Individual and Organizational Performance.