Be ‘Here,’ Now.

Dr. Michael O’Brien
Self-awareness and managing your mind are the key to success in the high-stakes game of leadership.

Remaining mindful through metacognition, allowing and curiosity, helps keep you on track to fulfilling your conscious goals over time.

Our unconscious mind plays a big role in our everyday actions. In fact, our unconscious needs sometimes override our conscious objectives, leading us to distraction.

For instance, you might plan on spending a couple hours reviewing last year’s financials to strategize for the upcoming quarter’s projections but end up micro-managing tasks you should delegate instead. While it might seem like you’re pursuing your conscious objectives, you’re actually veering off course.

Breaking out of this unconscious-driven mold can be difficult and sometimes even interfere with other aspects of your life, but by remaining mindful of the conscious goals you want to reach, you can replace old habits with new, more productive routines.

“Unconscious needs and motivations often overpower conscious goals.”

For instance, studies suggest that while your conscious goal might be to show up early and stay late in the office, your unconscious goal may be to avoid a bigger issue in your personal life. Burning the midnight oil might make you feel productive and accomplished, but it can take a toll on your overall well-being and strain relationships. Instead, take a step back and look at the bigger picture – identify what’s truly driving your behavior.

Practicing mindfulness

To give precedent to your conscious goals, I suggest exercising mindfulness as a leadership practice.

According to Harvard Business Review, practicing mindfulness is currently enjoying a surge in attention in leadership development circles, and for good reason. Mindfulness has more benefits than simply clearing your head and eliminating unconscious motivations – it helps you stay focused.

In addition to practicing mindfulness on a regular basis, preach the advantages to your team and employees. Studies have shown that it improves productivity and lowers health care costs for companies, Forbes Contributor Jeanne Meister noted.

This will require a bit more concentration on why you’re doing what you’re doing along with some self-investigation. Harvard Business Review outlined three “meta-capacities” that can help with remaining mindful:

  1. Metacognition – The ability to turn off your auto-pilot mode and step back from the current moment to observe what you’re thinking, feeling and sensing. This will let you drill down into the actual motivations driving you, and get a better sense of what’s causing these impulses. Creating a “pause” in your action, allows you to see and choose your objectives.
  2. Allowing – The ability to let whatever may be, be. This c’est la vie-attitude doesn’t imply being weak or passive, it means to view the world as it actually is right now. All change begins with telling the truth. This practice helps you focus on setting and achieving the right goals.
  3. Curiosity – The ability to continually show a lively interest and be inquisitive about both your inner and outer world. Active curiosity raises your awareness and helps ground you to the present moment.

With these practices for remaining mindful, you can minimize the unconscious motivations driving you off course and remain focused on achieving the conscious ones that will further your success.