Be a mindful, not mindless, entrepreneur
Have you ever settled onto the couch one evening, put on the TV and before you know it are scraping the bottom of a “family-sized” bag of chips? What happened to having just a few? You certainly didn’t intend to eat the whole bag. So how did 100 or so chips slide sneakily past your lips? Because you weren’t thinking about it, you weren’t paying attention. You were mindlessly eating.
Maybe not everyone can relate to that first example, but everyone can relate to these: Leaving the house without your wallet; “losing” your shoes; mixing up a client meeting; spending time redoing work because of careless errors.
We repetitively do things so they eventually become second nature. They become mindless activities and in this mindlessness we forget to question why we do what we do and lose interest in seeking new ways of doing things.
In mindlessness, we grow resistant to growth and change – resistant to innovation.
Ellen Langer, often referred to as the “mother of mindfulness,” says this:
“We try to learn the new skill so well that we don’t have to think about it. The problem is that if we’ve been successful, it won’t occur to us to think about it even when it would be to our advantage to do so.”
An example Langer gives is driving: “For those of us who learned to drive many years ago, we were taught that if we needed to stop the car on a slippery surface, the safest way was to slowly, gently, pump the brake. Today most new cars have anti-lock brakes. To stop on a slippery surface, now the safest thing to do is to step on the brake firmly and hold it down. Most of us caught on ice will still gently pump the brakes. What was once safe is now dangerous. The context has changed but our behavior remains the same.”
The same thinking goes for running a business, especially at a time when innovation is being touted as the key to any business’ survival.
Innovation, however, takes practice. Making changes to established systems takes work.
Every innovation starts with an idea. To reach this idea stage, we must be mindful.
In recovery programs, the first step is always admitting you have a problem. But how can you recognize a problem when you’re not paying attention?
Problems slip by unaddressed all the time when you’re running a business, especially a small one when you’re often bogged down by day-to-day operations.
Examples: The small business owner who receives a $15,000 invoice and one week later has “mysteriously” spent every penny. Not noticing the bad apple employee who brings down the entire team morale.
Not realizing the accountant is pocketing just a little extra each month. Or even something as simple as noticing that staff meetings held on Monday mornings result in tired, disgruntled employees.
A simple exercise of mindfully observing your customers can tell you so much about how they engage in your products or services.
Mindfully think about your business practices and seize the opportunity to grow, change and improve!
Because of this, Mindful Profits incorporates mindfulness exercises into all of its workshops and retreats. Our next event, the Profitable Innovation Retreat, features a special guest mindfulness expert and coach to help you run your business mindfully and open up the pathway to innovation!