I, my mind, had a break.
I joined Facebook in 2007 and wrote there as my motto Carpe Diem or Live in the Moment. I felt it was embarrassingly cliché but nevertheless a valuable goal I wanted to remind myself about. To live in the present, to be present, aware and in control of how we experience it. Not thinking about things in the past or in the future but what is now. I had started both yoga and meditation already in the 90's. They have trained me to control my mind and focus only on my practice. At the same time I was really busy at work, traveling and giving my best in the exciting projects. I was asked to take care of several things and make big decisions at the same time and I did. And at the same time I was building and developing teams and my own work. I noticed that cross-country skiing and kayaking in the nature effectively calmed my mind and allowed me to focus only on my movements on the snow or water, the light, the sounds and the scenery. I, my mind, had a break. And with the free space in my mind allowing it, it is where got exciting and innovative ideas. However, I felt I had to keep my phone on also out there in the nature in case my boss (i.e. CEO, Board or the main owners) needed me. As they say, “When the CEO or the Board calls, you answer.” But this was part of my work and I had accepted it so as such it did not stress me.
When I started business coaching, I asked my group (as well as the private coaching clients) what themes they wanted us to discuss. Self leadership was and has ever since been one of the topics that has been part of all my coaching and presentations. It includes items such as time management and prioritisation, focus and presence, goal, planning and task setting and also mindfulness. It is about stopping and checking where you are at the moment, how you feel and what you need in order to be less stressed, more organised and to get things done. Is there a balance in your life in the way you want?
The amount of information we live and work with is huge and we are almost constantly connected to it, some of us day and night. How do we, and how should we, use our devices? Do we control how we use them or are they controlling us? Information intensive work is usually being with constant time pressure and complexity, changing fast from one task to another (or trying to multitask which is not anything to brag about anymore). Our work may be interrupted even up to 70 times a day by an alert of the devices for messages and it can take one third of the working day to recover and get back to what you were doing. How can you focus better on what you are doing and decrease interruptions that diminish your creativity and efficiency? How do you take care of yourself and ensure your ability to do a good job with the hectic work and perhaps also children needing your attention? You may be busy in a large corporation with endless task list and not enough control or an entrepreneur with all the control but limited or no helping hands. Or in between careers or retired, stressed of having no work or not knowing what to do next and how much is enough. In the end only you know your strengths and limits. And as a leader, parent, team member, entrepreneur, you should take care of yourself first to be able to support the others.
It has been clear to me in my coaching that people seek support not only for leading others but also for their own development and wellbeing. How to manage the various tasks and have enough time for own development and wellbeing? The more I've been coaching, the more I've included in my coaching clear guidance and discussion on self leadership and about being present. I usually start my coaching sessions and presentations with a short mindfulness exercise to help the participants get free from distractive thoughts. Last year I launched several retreats for this year that take place in the most relaxing and beautiful settings with focus on self leadership, mindfulness, yoga and outdoors. I hope I can help people see that their thoughts are not the same thing as what can be done. That the ways forward are often quite easy when we are not stopped by our assumptions and fears but focus on what is. These retreats are held (in the order of launch) at the Happy Hamlet in the charming countryside of Fauroux, France, at the Arctic Sky in Saariselkä in the Northern Finnish Lapland surrounded by lovely, snowy landscape and at the Hyppeis Värdshus in Houtskär by the sea in the beautiful archipelago. They all introduce ways to control our mind and will have inspiring discussions, relaxing yoga and activities outdoors in the beautiful nature around them.
Interest for self leadership and mindfulness is justified also based on studies that (I am sure is no longer news for anyone) clearly show the benefits of focusing on and practising them. I see them in connection, supporting each other. Mindfulness has come to my way big time in the past year with various workshops and coaching on the subject matter lead by psychologists e.g. on neuroergonomics and mindfulness experts on useful exercises. I was even asked to contribute with my thoughts on the benefits of mindfulness at work for the Indian company Monks@Work. This all has been very interesting and rewarding and has encouraged me to continue with the concept I have created for the retreats.
I encourage you all to find out more about self leadership and mindfulness by coming to our retreats or finding information about them elsewhere. There are lots of great apps and sites with mindfulness exercises also for free (in Finland e.g. in Youtube by Sydänliitto, Mieli, Työnohjauspalvelu and many others). But wouldn’t it be great to leave your phone, iPad and PC behind or at least close them, take a break from your routines and just be fully present without any interruptions in any of these wonderful sites mentioned above, enjoying nature, yoga and inspiring discussions! Your first chance is in late March this year in Saariselkä at the the Arctic Sky. Next one will be in May at the Hyppeis Värdshus in Houtskär and in Summer and Autumn for all us Boss-ladies and monsieurs at the Happy Hamlet in France. Which one is calling you?