Summary: Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader By Marc Lesser
Summary: Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader By Marc Lesser

Summary: Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader By Marc Lesser

Practice 1: Love the Work

  • Ask yourself: What brings me alive, and what really brings me alive?
  • Explore your values, or what you love, by naming the people you admire and the values they represent.
  • Practice four types of love: loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.
  • To cultivate mindfulness and see more clearly, practice meditation.
  • Get to know the “three apes” inside yourself, which represent your fears, dissatisfactions, and need for connection.
  • Acknowledge your ground truths and identify creative gaps: What are yours?
  • Tell your “way-seeking mind” story (in a journal or to a friend). What brought you to love this work?


Practice 2: Do the Work

  • Implement or continue dedicated mindfulness practices: Create a regular routine of meditation, walking meditation, and journal writing, in any combination.
  • Implement or continue an integrated mindfulness practice. Ask, “What is the appropriate response?”
  • Listen for facts and for feelings, and practice generative listening.
  • Practice self-compassion; experiment with kindness.
  • Whenever you feel triggered or reactive, pause, evaluate the appropriate response, and cultivate emotional awareness.
  • Whenever you fear change, identify your ground truth or creative gaps, and act to seek alignment.


Practice 3: Don’t Be an Expert

  • Adopt “beginner’s mind,” or seeing without assuming, anticipating, or judging.
  • Embrace failure. Practice “I failed” when things don’t go as planned or expected.
  • Practice seeing things as if for the first time, such as your hand or while walking.
  • Notice mind wandering and rumination.
  • Bring awareness to your experiencing self and to your remembering or storytelling self.
  • Notice your filters. What stories get in the way of listening?
  • Avoid assuming you know what others feel and think; instead, listen to learn what is “invisible” to you.


Practice 4: Connect to Your Pain

  • Face and connect with pain and discomfort, since this helps us learn what is most important and meaningful to us.
  • Remember that emotional pain, like physical pain, is a helpful signal about a problem that needs attention.
  • Practice meditation as a way of exploring discomfort.
  • Notice when your life gets out of alignment; listen to your intuition and feelings of dissatisfaction or discomfort.
  • Explore your story and your understanding of positive and negative events by creating a timeline.
  • To avoid denial and compartmentalization, occasionally feel miserable on purpose and connect to our shared human condition.
  • Practice “one less breath” to appreciate being alive and not taking anything for granted.
  • Maintain perspective by not turning away from painful situations.


Practice 5: Connect to the Pain of Others

  • Remember that a leader’s job, by definition, is to cultivate community and connection.
  • Recognize the “Four Horsemen” that seek to avoid connecting to the pain of others: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.
  • Practice seeing similarities and offering kindness.
  • In conversation, look under the hood of others by asking about difficulties and challenges.
  • Practice tonglen, or giving and receiving meditation.
  • Foster empathy in order to inspire, and lead with, acts of compassion.


Practice 6: Depend on Others

  • In your role as a leader, explore and focus on coaching, empowering, and listening to others.
  • Notice your resistance to depending on others and embrace interdependence.
  • Meditate with and for others to help develop a regular meditation practice.
  • Do a brief audit: Who depends on you? And how do you depend on others?
  • Consider your work style — visionary, organizer, people person, or doer — and the work styles of others when building a group or team.
  • Seek to cultivate positive group norms of psychological safety, structure and clarity, dependability, meaning, and impact.
  • As necessary, change the way meetings are conducted to foster mindfulness and a collaborative, cooperative, supportive environment.


Practice 7: Keep Making It Simpler

  • Explore letting go of your to-do lists, plans, and projects, just for a few minutes each day.
  • Practice greater acceptance. Experiment with turning toward difficulty, accepting it, and letting go of blame.
  • During any activity, practice being alert and relaxed.
  • Meditate to practice letting go of extra effort.
  • Explore being more focused, engaged, and spacious as an antidote to busyness.
  • Notice your routines and add new ones that foster mindfulness.
  • Go on regular retreats.
  • Consider that you have one career: cultivating awareness and helping others.
  • In any moment, simplify using the three breaths practice: focus on body, breath, and what is most important.