Byron's Babbles

Bending In The Breeze: Being A Mindful Leader

Posted in Coaching, Education, Educational Leadership, Leadership, Learning Organization by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 4, 2014

IMG_0602.JPG Today, while learning to be a more mindful leaders while at Harvard we did a meditation exercise looking out the window. This exercise was done in the Gutman Library at the Harvard Graduate School of Education during a session of Inner Strengths of Successful Leaders. I looked out and saw the tree that I have included a picture of in this post. It was a little windy out and the tree was gently bending in the breeze. It made me think about how as mindful leaders we must bend as the winds of difficulties blow in our everyday lives. I have seen wind break a tree that does not bend while leaving others that bend untouched.. After every windstorm there are broken branches scattered everywhere. I think, just like a tree we have a choice to either bend or break, or duck behind a windscreen.

While I agree with the observations regarding flexibility, resilence, and being adaptable. There is a fact that everyone must recognize. The tree that is highly flexible must also be rooted deeply or in a forest where the root systems intertwine and provide additional strength. A high rise building that moves up to 9 meters at the top requires a very strong foundation. A person who can bend with the circumstances must have core values and mindsets that are deeply rooted. Sometimes we need to take our mind for a walk, which was the whole purpose of the meditation at the window. We need to be aware of those things that are serving us well.

When we have difficult meetings, phone calls with difficult people, or are thrown difficult circumstances (which we will be) we need to take a mindful moment. In this mindful moment we are bending like the tree in the breeze. We need to be aware, take a moment to breathe, and show some compassion for ourselves. Also, in difficult situations we must recall what matters most to us as leaders. Another great leadership skill to remember is that when you feel the impulse to explain, LISTEN! Remember, act out of your values.

Furthermore, don’t try to get rid of difficulties, but build a bigger playing field so your values can be brought to the forefront. The leadership reality is that we will get overwhelmed. When thrown, we need to ratchet down the reaction just like the tree bends in the breeze. When thrown, our bend will be listening, looking inside to explore patterns and identify where we might be wrong, and take responsibility.

Finally, mindful leaders are poised. When we practice mindfulness we are able to bend with difficulties because of our presence and clarity to know what is happening. A great quote is, “What you resist persists.” Think about it; if the tree resists the wind and does not bend, it will break.


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