Working as an Executive Coach I get asked time and time again by my clients – what is the No 1 thing that I can do to really improve my performance and achieve my goals? Of course, there is not a “one size fits all” but I truly believe that, above all else, the one thing that we all need to do is to train our brain.
“What?” I hear you say, “what about planning, goal setting, strategy development?” Yes, they are all important elements but if you have not trained your brain to be an effective element in your armory, then the rest will count for nothing.
A while ago I read a book by Randy Komisar entitled “The Monk and the Riddle: the Art of Creating a Life while Making a Living” It is a really good book and one I would recommend to anyone to read. Many of my clients who I work with as Executive Coach have read it and become raving fans.
One of the interesting things about Komisar, who is not only an author, but a lawyer, CEO and venture capitalist (no tree hugger in there!) is that he puts his success very largely down to his spiritual practice which he says is the source of his psychological power, which is critical to continued success and growth.
Now when I talk about “spiritual practice” I am not talking about religion, and nor is Randy Komisar. What he is talking about is the practice that helps to train his brain to fuel his success. He is talking about the practice of mindfulness and meditation that he has integrated into his life on a daily basis since 1995 and it is now his ritual – something I have spoken of before.
What he is talking about is taking time out every day to practice his meditation which unleashes his potential. I can hear some of you say – “I came to you because you are an Executive Coach – so why are you talking about meditation?” To illustrate and clarify the point have a look at the following quotation from Randy:
“It (the process of meditation) is a process of stripping myself bare of all of the pressures, all of the barnacles that accumulate around you every day as you interact in the world – the pressures, the expectations, the ego, the things that ultimately make your vision unclear. And every day, my meditation is about moving those, getting absolutely clearer in that moment and open, allowing myself to back up, to walk out into the world and have it happen all over again”
This is fantastic stuff and as an Executive Coach it is a practice I have incorporated into my life, and have seen the enormous benefits from it – as have many of my clients.
Be clear that there are many ways of doing this – it can be guided meditation, transcendental meditation, Zen or Buddhist meditation, mantra mediation, or prayers from whatever faith you come from.
My personal choice is mantra meditation, but you need to find what works for you. But whichever you choose it is that practice, on a daily basis, making it a ritual, where you stop and just be present and still, and chant, pray or meditate on a single issue. In the process of being still, your creative self will flow, and you are training your brain to be still – and you are taking control. As an Executive Coach I cannot but encourage you to adapt this practice.
An interesting piece of research was conducted by Sara Lazer PhD at Massachusetts General Hospital, and this research was funded by the National Institute of Health and the Centers for Disease Control in the USA. Her findings proved that those who habitually practiced a form of meditation enjoyed positive changes in their brainpower “long beyond the time when you’re actually sitting and meditating”
Is this a good enough reason to embed this practice into your daily routine and make it a ritual? I believe so.
So, as an Executive Coach, my number 1 instruction to any client is to find what it takes to train their brain to be still every day – if only for 10 minutes. This is the foundation of all else that follows.
I will write more on this.