Entrepreneurship is a fulfilling career path that can be a journey of ups and downs, wins and losses, and successes and failures. That’s how it’s supposed to be, and those who stick with it, often love the process. As Gary Vaynerchuk says: “Love the process and the grind more than the pay off”. Throughout the journey of starting and growing a business, mindfulness can be a powerful tool for entrepreneurs for several reasons.
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in the moment—be completely aware of our surroundings, what we’re doing, and in complete control of our thoughts, actions, and emotions. While mindfulness is innate, it can be practiced in many different ways. Given the busy lifestyle of most entrepreneurs and business owners, studies show that daily meditation has a significant positive impact on creative thinking and productivity, as well as general wellbeing.
Entrepreneurs need to think quickly, but at the same time, they must also process large amounts of varying information within short periods of time. Mindfulness has been proven to decrease “mind wandering” and increase focus, attention span, and the ability to think more clearly, all of which produce higher quality work. Mindfulness has been proven to increase focus and the ability to think more clearly. A study published in the scientific journal, Consciousness and Cognition, found that even brief meditation training improved cognition. The researchers placed individuals into one of two groups, one that received four sessions of meditation or a group that did not receive meditation. Individuals in the meditation group showed higher levels of verbal and non-verbal reasoning, and improved ability to hold information and better overall moods.
Effective Communication is a key skill that entrepreneurs must attain if they aspire to be successful. It is proven that when team leaders communicate with compassion and empathy, the team is more productive. Mindfulness brings not only awareness to your own thoughts and emotions but opens up the thoughts to others thoughts and emotions. Mavasive Leadership Institute is an organization, that helps leaders cultivate emotional intelligence in order for them to successfully lead their teams. According to their website, 92% of leaders with high emotional self-awareness have teams with high energy and high performance. On the contrary, leaders with low emotional self-awareness create a negative atmosphere 78% of the time. Mavasive Leadership Institute offers a program for entrepreneurs explores the impact of mindfulness on leadership and the effect of meditation on the brain through a variety of individual and group exercises.
Mindfulness can help you make a failure feel like a positive feeling by changing the way you think about it. It can teach your mind to manage your emotions more effectively and productively. Most entrepreneurs who are highly successful have failed more than a few times. It is an expectation of the industry. This is what makes entrepreneurship so unique and exciting. The fear of the unknown and the drive to succeed makes you who you are.
Leila Janah, founder and CEO of Samasource and LXMI, recommends a few tools to practice mindfulness for entrepreneurs:
According to Harvard neuroscientist, Sara Lazar, meditation not only reduces stress but increases health, promotes longevity, and is great for interpersonal interactions. Steve Jobs, one of the greatest icons in high tech, was drawn to this form of practicing mindfulness. Corporations such as Google, Ford, Target and others are now encouraging their employees to include the practice. There are many different ways to meditate. The one that Steve Jobs most preferred is called Zen Buddhist meditation practice.
How to: Start by sitting in a cross-legged or comfortable position on the floor with closed eyes. Begin to take deep breaths and focus on your inner thoughts. Try to quiet your thoughts by focusing on your breath and the senses you feel. While it can take a while to get there, you’ll know when you’re doing the exercise correctly when it seems as if no time has passed.
There is evidence that our thought patterns can have an impact on our brain and our body. Through positive affirmations, these thought patterns can be changed. One way to change negative thought patterns is to replace them with positive beliefs about yourself, the people around you, and the world. According to Leila, beliefs start with the words we tell ourselves. Whether you call them prayers, mantras, or affirmations, words become beliefs, and beliefs become actions.
How to: Write down positive statements about yourself. Frame your dreams as statements in the present tense, and recite them often.
When you face a stressful situation, stress hormones, specifically cortisol, is released into your body. Cortisol kicks your brain and your body into survival mode. By exercising regularly, your body will learn to better regulate the cortisol that is it is releasing. It will learn to adapt and release less hormones in situations of high stress. Exercising releases endorphins, known as our natural painkillers. Endorphins inhibit the amount of pain you experience, fight depression, and can create feelings of relaxation and positivity following workout sessions, all of which help with the stressors of entrepreneurship.
How to: Pick your favorite movement to get your blood going and start reducing stress.
In short, Mindfulness is the act of being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every moment — without interpretation or judgment. Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, say, “Mindfulness is one way that many entrepreneurs choose to combat the toll wrought by round-the-clock emails, long working hours and other aspects of our accelerated business culture.