While balancing on one leg in some twisted yoga position, I am only thinking of not falling. I am completely in that moment, not thinking about the quote I just sent to a client, what to make for dinner, or whether it’s red, white, and blue day tomorrow at the kids school; I am just thinking about my balance, and it feels amazing.
In our current society, we are never away from the office; there is no five o’clock bell. We receive calls, texts, and emails 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Remember when you could tell someone you would be out of range? Today, even the most remote places have cell service allowing us to feed our addiction. Our minds are always on the go as business owners and decision makers; we are constantly reacting to systems with glitches, quoting new systems, solving problems, installing equipment, and answering the phone. It never ends.
How can we be mindful in a job that demands us to learn from the past, and look toward the ever-changing future?
Learn to Just Breathe: Mindfulness is no longer just talked about in the yoga studio. According to the HuffPost Business Blog, “General Mills, Proctor and Gamble, AOL Time Warner, Google, Target, Apple, Nike, McKinsey, and Goldman Sachs are only a few of the companies that are now offering meditation on the job.
“We cannot lead at our highest level if we are chronically anxious. We cannot be our best self in a chronic state of stress.” Another top executive talks of a six-second meditation, which equates to one concentrated, all-in breath before walking into a big meeting.
Have the Courage to be Imperfect: Vulnerability is tough, and in this industry we want to know everything; we have a thirst for it. It takes great courage to say, “I don’t know,” and yet it could be the phrase that gets you that next job.
Not long ago, after completing work on a few training rooms, a boardroom, and a conference room for a client, they purchased a church with a sanctuary for full staff meeting of hundreds; this space was the real deal with a beautiful domed ceiling, stage, and alter. After the initial meetings we came to them and admitted that houses of worship were not in our wheelhouse. We walked away from the job and then surprisingly we received a call a few days later asking if we would put together a proposal. “We like you and the way you conduct business and would like you on this journey with us.”
Knowing what we did not know, we went back to the manufacturer who provided world-class designers, and they ended up with a state-of-the-art system that has kept them so happy that we just signed an AV contract for a five-story addition to one of their buildings.
Be Authentic: Being in someone’s home is intimate. Drilling into their wall, seeing their attics and basements stuffed with years of trash and treasures is beyond familiar. How you and your installers behave in that scenario is paramount. I bet that every installer out there has stories of the things they have seen and heard in the comfort of someone else’s home. It is not easy to be so personal with another human and not take it personally when they are displeased or want to make a change for the millionth time, or yell at you when they are using the remote wrong even though you walked them through it twice and wrote it on a post-it note.
What we have to remember is that our clients are human, too, and often in high-pressure situations. When they sit down at the end of their long day, and the system does not work as it should, they deserve the ability to tell you exactly how they feel without leaving their couch. I imagine it was different back in the day, when you had to wait to complain until morning. These are authentic human interactions; there is no faking it.
At the end of every yoga class, after exhausting muscles that you did not know you had, you lie still and empty your mind. These few minutes are always hardest for me, as my mind does not like to sit idle. Still, I breathe, honor the past, stay grateful for the moment, and then get up and move toward the future. This is the same way we need to treat our businesses. Learn from the past (but let it go), stay in the moment (remain focused), all while looking toward the future (and all that it holds).