July 13, 2019
6 Essential Hacks of the Creative and Productive Leader
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Do you feel as though life moves too fast? If you sense your to-do list nipping at your heels, you're not alone.
It can be all too easy to be swept into the momentum of day-to-day affairs and no longer feel in charge. But there is hope. Let’s discover the 6 essential drivers behind the mindset of the leaders in creativity and productivity.
Countless peer-reviewed studies, notable authors and teachings of ancient cultures show that being mindful and aware of stressful thoughts and situations is a key element of a creative and productive life.
In 2017, the American Psychological Association conducted a stress survey and found that the most common stressors for Americans were politics, money, and work. Identifying the internal and external drivers of your stress is essential to achieve mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
Mindfulness may not be a magic pill that will optimize your life in one go, but with time and a self-reflecting and mindful lifestyle, you can alter essential traits of your personality.
Life is complicated. We live in an interconnected and rapidly changing world. When assessing any thought or experience, we ought to take into account the social, cultural and political context. Context means to take a step back and observe ourselves and our surroundings within our environment, such as our mood swings, workplace or family dynamics.
Not an easy proposition, but seeing things in perspective is an indisputably vital way to tame our thoughts and inspire calmness. Our modern era calls for a different mindset not necessarily relevant just a few decades ago.
To gain this situational perspective, we require a mental framework that we can carry with us at all times – a practical way to see ourselves in the third person. One approach is mindful framing, where you visualize being the director, producer, and screenwriter of your own life. Rather than be pulled waist-deep into the mud of anxiety, you can use your mind’s eye to see yourself in a movie set, in the context of your own thoughts and environment.
Whether you choose to daydream, be creative, be mindful, socialize, work or relax, one thing remains the same: You.
Ensure in every moment that you are in charge, not a marionette or mindless robot. You should invest quality time in self-reflection. Find solitude by skipping passive activities, such as watching shows, scrolling news feeds, and overindulging in social media.
Spend time with yourself, in silence, doing ‘nothing.’ Be careful though, your mind will try to take over and lead you into stressful thoughts, avoid them by being aware and assessing the context of the moment. Over time your mind will start delivering creative ideas and a sense of calmness essential to cope with every day’s life challenges.
Often, we believe the more we do for others, the better. We may even connect what we do to our inherent social value. Sadly, the endless strive towards mastering superficial engagements creates frustration and confusion.
Just being there, open and available to others provides immense support. People notice within seconds our social status and essential cues about our attitude. Let’s just be authentic, be in the moment and show empathy.
Take a new job, for instance. At the beginning of your new role, you will inevitably struggle to keep up with all the different tasks. You could spend all day answering every email that enters your inbox, or you could spend time learning about the company's culture. Identify how individuals and teams, their personalities and networks are driving workstreams.
Instead of barely skimming through a ton of superficial engagements, you can be more effective by focusing on a few in-depth interactions.
Given a choice, would you prefer to receive electric shock therapy, or be alone with your thoughts?
It might sound like a silly question. But a study conducted at the University of Virginia discovered that participants would rather subject themselves to electric shocks than dealing with their minds.
When we eliminate distractions and allocate time to a focused task, either work or leisure, time passes much faster and we are much more productive. We are in a flow state.
In his best-selling book Flow, the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi observed that to achieve a flow state requires the five C’s of the flow mindset:
It might seem natural to avoid stress by distracting ourselves with work, leisure and digital or social engagements than face our thoughts. And in some ways, it's not our fault. There tends to be a culture of productivity and hyperactivity that tells us to avoid boredom at all costs.
We may even feel that doing nothing is lazy and unproductive. But nothing is further from the truth.
Ever notice how you feel more clear-headed after a vacation? Well, our brains need vacations daily, not just a few weeks out of the year. Manfred Kets De Vries, an INSEAD Professor of Leadership, explains that allowing the brain 'downtime,' enables us to improve our mental health, incubate new ideas and reduce stress.
Our world moves at lightning speed, and in some ways, there's nothing wrong with a healthy dose of fast-paced drive. But having a mindset able to allocate downtime throughout the day while keeping productive bursts of energy generates better results than steady pressure at work.
By learning and practicing how to deploy these 6 mindset drivers you train your mind to relax and clarify your thought processes. You are entering a new mental space; you are becoming the fearless leader of your mind.
This article was originally published in mindfulbook.org
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