Tag Archives: mindfulness

What Mindfulness Does For Sales

By Jordan Weinand, Founder of Glowsoul and Friend of Simple Intentions

011817_whatmindfulnessAll folks who sell for a living want to make the next big deal. The overwhelming pride you feel when you’ve helped push the quota past expectations is worth every ounce of work you put in. It feels really good when your boss is pumped enough to reach into the pocket and splurge on your success during happy hour too.

If there was a step-by-step guide on how to achieve consistent sales results, we’d all be eager to pay up.

Hard work and grit. Yeah, it makes sense that we need both of those, however, it’s not easy to teach those characteristics. On all accounts, it requires you to find it from within. If you’re not breaking yourself like Rocky Balboa, the next best way to find yourself is through Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the mental state we reach when we focus our awareness on the present moment. During this state, we are acknowledging and accepting of our feelings, thoughts, and sensations. Mindfulness has tons of benefits, below are three that will help you sell the next biggest deal on your team.

Memory Improvement

Have you ever forgotten the fine details about your prospect’s needs and lost a sale because you couldn’t remember how exactly to tie in your service? I have, my pen only writes so fast! If I could ask for one superpower it would be a better memory.

There are ample ways of increasing the stickiness in your storage capacity. A few I’ve tried are: story-based association, poem memorization and reading books. Another, that has helped a ton is mindfulness and meditation.

The “Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Group,” found there are structural differences between brains of experienced meditation practitioners and those who aren’t.

In this Harvard Gazette article, detailed by Sue McGreevey, MGH Communications, the group found increased grey matter (found in regions of the brain associated with hearing, emotions, and memory) in test subjects who practiced meditation for 27 minutes a day, over an 8-week span. This is helpful to know as I’ve personally noticed better detail recollection with meditating and mindfulness.

Gain Empathy

It’s been documented that since the 1970’s we’re becoming less empathetic and compassionate. Sarah Konrath from the University of Michigan says she’s seen a steady drop since 1990 in these areas. Mindfulness and meditation can certainly boost this lack of empathy. While long-term benefits of mindfulness include increased memory, stronger overall health and cognitive skill speed, increased compassion is the main focus.

When being mindful you’re often sitting in a quiet space for any length of time and guiding awareness to the present moment. The aim is to focus on the now and be thankful for all you have in the instant. The immediate effects often are an appreciation for oneself, others and the materials you already have. When I focus on mindful selling, I become appreciative of my managers, prospects and the opportunity to help. Showing empathy in sales has a sweet referral ROI along with a fast track to trust.

Lose Stress

Between a 50-call day, preparing demos for prospects and managing current partners, the mounting stress can be real, especially if you don’t have an outlet. In the same Harvard study, the subjects reported a lower stress level and did have lower grey matter density in the amygdala, a little nugget of grey matter involved with emotions and plays an important role in anxiety and stress.

Amishi Jha, of the University of Miami, thinks that while stress can be reduced in eight weeks of a mindfulness training program, the structural changes in the amygdala could push better studies in curing stress related disorders like PTSD. With less stress, you’ll be eager to keep your nose to the grindstone and build that awesome sales pipe, even if you have PTSD from being bombarded with NO’s.

Much of sales is mental. We are humans with a very curious, powerful structure upstairs that constantly is powered up. The mind needs massaging and relaxation. Feeling refreshed during long sales cycles grows your grit, improves your memory, shrinks your stress and forces you to be empathetic. Test it for a month and try to find favorable techniques. You’ll notice a quick turnaround on your overall perception of smiling and dialing. If nothing else, you will at least have 20 minutes of peace and quiet.

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Enough

By Joanna Fuller, Friend of Simple Intentions

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In May 2014, after more than 20 years in the workforce, I decided my life was overdue for a change. And so, as any relatively sane, single person might do….naturally I ran away and joined the Peace Corps. I left my job, rented my house, packed two bags and boarded a plane for Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia.

Like the word Timbuktu, people often use Ulaanbaatar to mean the middle of nowhere, or a place so far away you actually have no idea where it is. But UB wasn’t my final destination – that was a twelve-hour bus ride west, in a small, provincial center called Bayankhongor, where I lived and worked for two years as a secondary school English teacher, helping prepare students for life outside the nomadic herding tradition of their parents and grandparents.

As a volunteer, life was stripped down. I lived with a host family and while I had my own small room—equipped with the luxuries of a twin bed, a small sink with cold running water, a single electrical outlet, a stove and refrigerator—I lacked both an indoor toilet and a shower. I washed clothes by hand and had heat from October through April, though it regularly snowed September through May. A big adjustment from life in America.

It’s funny, though, how adaptable we humans are. Soon, my tiny room became cozy and comfortable. Walking to work (we weren’t allowed to drive) became daily meditation. Cooking simple meals with the ingredients available became a creative endeavor, best enjoyed family-style, with my site-mates and our Mongolian friends.

I thrived in the simplicity: On the one hand, I did tire of wearing the same clothes every week; on the other, I stopped thinking about what to wear because with limited options, the decisions were few. Cleaning my home took ninety minutes or less, including time to hand-wash my clothes. And with nothing much besides food and school supplies to buy, there was little time spent shopping or tending to things.

I’d never before realized just how much of my daily life in America had been consumed with processing decisions about what and how much to buy. Being free of that demand was nothing less than a giant Hallelujah. So, when I came home this past August, I figured I was permanently enlightened. That, having seen the image in the Magic Eye poster I’d never again be able to un-see it and would easily fulfill my intent to bring this simplified life to America.

Nope.

Returning to America after two years was like booking a week at the swankiest, most decadent spa resort in the world. I could have whatever food I wanted, any time I wanted it. I could get in my car and drive (on paved roads!) to places where I could buy anything I desired. I could swim around in a queen-sized bed, throw my laundry into the washer and walk away, turn the heat in my house to the exact setting of perfect comfort. It was so good.

But it wasn’t long before I grew accustomed to those things, and needed more and more input to get the same rush as in the first few weeks of my return. Suddenly all the things I’d been able to live without in Mongolia became things I had to have, now that I could, in America.

I determined I needed new clothes for interviews and eventual work. I started going out to eat with friends—a lot. I decided it was time to replace my fourteen year-old car. I looked around my twenty-year old home that had seen better days, and it was “clear” that new carpets were in order, not to mention a full interior paint.

But after weeks of adding to my to-buy list, in one particularly anxiety-ridden moment, I simply stopped. I took a deep breath and reminded myself: You haven’t spent this money yet. And even better, you do not have to.

Maybe that seems obvious. Maybe it seems ridiculous that I even got that worked up, and maybe I just have a problem that no one else has. But I don’t think so. I think consumption is the air we breathe in America. I think I was simply sliding back into old habits and a culture I was used to: responding to advertising and the availability of goods and services (and free financing!) all around me, not to mention the way so many others around me were living. In some ways, wasn’t I just fitting in?

But I knew I didn’t want to live that way. I’ve come to believe that the question I’m answering almost every time I buy something new is not, “Do I have enough?” but, “Am I enough?”

  • Am I enough if my house doesn’t look like it belongs on HGTV?
  • Am I enough if my closet isn’t “fashion-forward,” or if I don’t look as hip as my friends and co-workers?
  • Am I enough if I can’t—or don’t want to—afford to meet friends at expensive restaurants?

The answer every time should be yes. But the culture here is strong, and the truth is, when I feel different from the people around me, I can also start to feel less than.

So that’s the work I need to do if I want to enjoy the peace and freedom I experienced in Mongolia.

But equally, I don’t want to lose the ability to enjoy the wonderful luxuries we have here in the States. New carpet and new paint in my home aren’t just indulgences, they’re also good stewardship, and part of my desire to have a home I enjoy and that’s a welcoming place for friends and family. A small, professional capsule wardrobe makes sense and can be invested in wisely. An occasional meal out can be a fun and relaxing way to connect with friends.

There’s an art, I’ve come to believe, in allowing myself to indulge often enough that it brings joy, but not so often that I become desensitized to the experience.

So of late, I’ve adopted a quick, two-part framework for guiding how and when I make purchases:

  1. The UB rule: In Bayankhongor, shopping was so limited that most purchases had to wait for the twelve-hour bus ride to the capital, which only happened every few months. If I ran out of peanut butter or popcorn, I did without until the next trip. So the UB rule is: With the exception of groceries, I can only make purchases after observing a waiting period of at least a month. Very often, I find I’m OK without. If I do go ahead and buy it, I usually treasure and enjoy it all the more because of the wait.
  2. The “What is it, really?” rule: If I’m tempted to break the UB rule, and to make a purchase in the heat of the moment, that’s usually an indication I’m trying to fill an emotional need, something another purchase won’t actually resolve. If there’s something I feel I absolutely have to have, right now, I ask myself what I’m really trying to buy, versus what I need. They’re not usually the same. Am I feeling lonely? Downloading and binge-watching a full season of Girls isn’t the answer. I need to reach out to my real-life friends. Feeling down about myself? New clothes might be a temporary salve, but more self-care is probably in order: I can cook a flavorful, healthy meal (even better with friends) or go to the Y for a swim. Usually the things I truly need don’t cost much money at all.

I’m no longer under the illusion that living simply is simple in America. But as I work through the complicating factors of culture and my own ego, I’m more convinced than ever that with commitment, community, and mindfulness, it’s more than possible.

By making a commitment to live with what I have, I’m finding time and space to enjoy my life at home more than ever before. As in Mongolia, my home is becoming cozy and comfortable as it is. I’m taking more time to enjoy simple meals with friends and family. My daily walks and bus rides to work have become cherished time for reflection and for just enjoying the beautiful scenery.

As Mary Poppins said, “Enough is as good as a feast.” And I have—and am—enough.

 

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Conscious Ingestion

By Jae Ellard, Simple Intentions Founder and CEO

[Note: This post originally appeared in Huffington Post]

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What do you consciously ingest each day? If you are like most people, food is the first thing that comes to mind – as humans we intentionally consume food daily. It could be said that those who follow trends like mindful eating and elimination diets have a higher consciousness about what they ingest – meaning only that they are very intentional about the food they put into their bodies.

What happens if we expand the concept of ingestion beyond food and consider the content of the world you ingest each day? For example, what type of music plays in your car or office, what type of news do you read and from what source, what type of technology do you interact with and what people and environments do you source from each day?

Now consider, how the content you consume impacts your energy and attitude. Just like with consuming food, not all content gives energy or sits well internally. This can lead to a feeling of emotional or mental indigestion. (And just like with food, sometimes people keep consuming that which is causing discomfort, even after they discover how their body reacts to the input.)

If you feel like you might have emotional or mental indigestion and are curious to explore what types of content may be the source, start by creating awareness around the content you consume each day. For each person the answers will be different – but the questions are the same.

  • What type of sound do you intentionally and unintentionally ingest each day? (Think television, music, YouTube, background noise in your office, the soundtrack on your commute and so on.)
    • What type of information do you intentionally and unintentionally feed your eyes, ears and brain each day? (Think Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, E-mails, magazines, books, cookbooks, children’s homework, newsstands in grocery stores, advertisements, signs in stores and so on.)
  • What type of people do you intentionally and unintentionally interact with each day? (Think people at work, on your commute, in your home, in the market and malls, in your neighborhood, your children’s friends (and their parents) and so on.)
  • What is the first content you ingest in the morning? (Your phone, your dog, your spouse, your children, yourself and so on.)
  • What is the first content you ingest before falling asleep? (Your phone, your dog, your spouse, your children, a book, a magazine, yourself and so on.)

Once you have developed awareness around what content you are consuming each day, you can begin to see what content may be linked to any feelings of emotional or mental indigestion. Once you see the link, explore the connection.

The difference between emotional or mental indigestion and physical indigestion is that the solution for content indigestion isn’t always elimination. Instead, it can be an illumination of an aspect of yourself to explore more deeply, which could lead to elimination of that content or in some cases a deeper yearning to consume more.

How could your life be different if you were to create more consciousness around what your eyes, brain, body and heart ingest each day?

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Talk to the Whole Person

By Jae Ellard, Simple Intentions Founder and CEO

[Note: This post originally appeared in Mindful Mag]

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There’s a lot of talk about making workplaces more mindful, but what does that really mean? Mindfulness is more than meditation. It’s just as much about how we communicate with those around us as it is about finding stillness within ourselves.

In the workplace, so much of what we accomplish, particularly as leaders, comes in the form of conversations. And when those conversations can be more mindful, we can develop a kinder, more compassionate culture, while still maintaining high standards of excellence. We can all think of a conversation or two (or five or 10) that we wouldn’t describe as mindful. But what really makes a conversation mindful?

Karen Starns, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing at Pearson, has had a 20-year career in technology, an industry where, after long hours under tight deadlines, anyone’s mindfulness could go right out the window. For Starns, a mindful conversation is an opportunity to open people up to a broader view and take them to an unexpected place. “Having a mindful conversation means considering the whole person you’re engaging with—not just the project they’re leading, or the deliverable they owe you.” Signaling that you’re aware of how the work gets done (not just that it gets done) and how the person is doing helps you make a more positive connection. Taking the time to “acknowledge an important personal milestone or to offer to juggle workload during a tough time can have an amplifying effect far beyond the situation at hand,” she says.

In other companies mindful communication is ingrained in the culture. At Vera Whole Health in 2008, Chief Visionary Officer Valerie Burlingame set out to build a company that embodies being “present and authentic.” At Vera, they try to help their employees with “particularly challenging conversations, when there may be some resistance or conflict.” They teach them to search within themselves and identify their own “stories, feelings, and wants so that we can be responsible and aware of what we are bringing into interactions.” She goes on to say that this practice has helped the company be more effective at resolving conflict, and helped to foster an atmosphere of trust in external and internal relationships.

For those in leadership roles, a little bit of attention paid to mindful speaking can go a long way. Lisa Hufford, CEO of Simplicity Consulting, has conversations with nearly 100 consultants and clients each month. Her intention for each conversation is to, “Be aware of my own emotions and potential triggers so that I do not let them lead me.” She also encourages her team to, “Visualize what success looks like for the conversation you want to have before you have it.”

She feels that this approach not only helps to create a positive culture, it also directly affects the bottom line, because, “Mindful communication allows my team to cut through the clutter and the noise that can permeate organizations. Being clear about intentions helps us get to the heart of the issues quickly and unifies the group.”

Regardless of what industry you’re in, what your company values are, or what type of job you have, every one of us can have more mindful conversations at work. For starters, you need to be clear about your intent at the outset, consider how you want to express it, choose the right time, and pay attention to what’s going on with the person on the other side of the conversation.

Sounds obvious and easy, right? But when we’re swimming in a sea of busyness, finding time to be intentional about how we enter into conversations can become a low priority. If we’re not careful, we’re practically barking.

Try an experiment this month: Make just one work conversation each day a bit more mindful. Set the intention to be present with the person (or people), get clear on your purpose, and remain engaged throughout the whole exchange. It’s possible to build mindfulness at work, one conversation at a time.

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Mindfulness and Work-life Balance: What’s the Difference?

By Jae Ellard, Simple Intentions Founder

[Note: This post originally appeared on Huffington Post.]

worklifebalanceIs mindfulness the new way to talk about “work-life balance”? Has work-life balance been a conversation about mindfulness all along?

As with other conversations around the topic of mindfulness and balance, it’s complicated. In fact, the answer is yes and no, because with both mindfulness and work-life balance, we desire the same outcome: easy joy and meaningful engagement with the roles, responsibilities and relationships that make up life – including the relationships we have with ourselves and those with whom we work.

Some believe that mindfulness is just meditation. It’s true, mediation is one of many tools and skills we can develop to cultivate mindful living, which broadly means living with greater presence, being in each moment you are in, regardless of where or with whom that moment occurs – at home with your children, alone in your car, at work among colleagues.

But at its core, mindfulness is much more than meditation. It starts with choosing to see how we show up in life, and making conscious choices about what our presence looks and feels like in each moment. That choice can comprise meditation, but it doesn’t have to. I’ve met many people who live very mindfully but don’t have a traditional mediation practice. Rather, their “quiet” moments look a bit differently: running, cooking, playing music, taking a bath, slowly sipping their morning tea.

Some believe that work-life balance is something granted by employers. It’s true, a company can create a culture that promotes balance. But company support is a small part of the work-life balance equation; individual accountability is another factor, and that includes a host of choices: aligning work with core values; setting and communicating boundaries; managing stress; knowing the difference between urgent, important and excitement; and paying attention to what we are doing while we are doing it.

Mindfulness usually starts with personal awareness and skill development that radiates out into our relationships, including the relationships we have at and with work. Work-life balance usually starts at a company level and expands to include reflection and action among teams and individuals. It’s the same conversation, just a different starting point.

Mindfulness is not better than work-life balance, or the other way around. There is no good, better, best, right or wrong way to learn skills to create easy joy and meaningful engagement with the roles, responsibilities and relationships that make up our lives.

And it doesn’t matter what companies, practitioners, publishers, journalists, or teachers call it. What matters is people willing to make the choice to live more mindfully and balanced, and having resources and environments available to develop mindful living skills.

Let’s ditch the discussion around the labels and focus instead on creating these environments where we can make the choice for mindful and balanced, as individuals and employees.

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Going tech-free one day a week

By Kim Lowe, Simple Intentions Managing Editor

A key concept we teach in our Mindful Life Program is presence with technology; that is, awareness of the devices around you and their impact on your life. We ask you to ask yourself such questions as: When and why do you use technology? And: What would your life be like if you limited — or eliminated — technology?

Tiffany Shlain, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and founder of the Webby Awards, genuinely knows the answers. For the past six years, Shlain and her family have been observing “Technology Shabbats,” 24 hours of sweet unpluggedness from Friday to Saturday evenings. As Shlain describes in the video below, the one screen-free day each week is now a sacred ritual that boosts her appreciation not only for her family, but also for technology itself.

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