How mindfulness increases productivity

Last updated on July 1st, 2019 at 02:33 pm

Organizations that practice mindfulness and positive feedback help employees reach greater levels of productivity. According to a growing body of research, mindfulness allows us to slow down, be present and increase our ability to make effective decisions and therefore, increase productivity.

To increase mindfulness, we must begin by breathing more deeply into the belly. This helps us to tap into what I call, “Gut Intelligence.” Gut Intelligence is a form of mindfulness which takes our unconscious knowing and makes it conscious.

Recently, I was working with the women from my Leadership Roundtable at our quarterly retreat. The focus of the retreat was to increase their mindfulness to help them unleash their hidden potential and productivity. We began with breathing techniques to increase their Gut intelligence and then used the Johari window model, created by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham, to increase self-awareness and awareness of others.

The Johari window is a model which has the following four quadrants to explain and improve self-awareness:

  1. Open to self: We and others know who we are.
  2. Hidden area/façade: Information about us that we know but others don’t know.
  3. Blind self: Others see information about us, but we do not see it.
  4. Unknown: Information about us that neither we nor others know.

To begin the mindfulness exercise, each individual was given words that best describe their essence from the other participants in the group. The intention was to help everyone become more self-aware of how they positively project to the world. After this portion of the exercise was finished, each participant admitted how much he or she loved hearing such positive feedback. Sadly, it reminded me how often we don’t get enough positive feedback on what it is about us that makes us unique and special.

The second part of the mindfulness exercise helped individuals integrate their hidden self and a blind spot they judge as their “unacceptable self.” This part of our self is “lost” or repressed because we experienced at a young age, likely before age 8, that this aspect of our self was irritating to someone from which we wished to have approval. Perhaps it was a parent, a sibling or friends who told us this part of our self was “not enough.” 

For example, if we were a natural leader, someone may have told us we were “bossy” because we had not yet refined our leadership skills. Likely, this happened because we triggered their inability to set boundaries when faced with our strength. Instead of them owning their own hidden or blind self, they projected their insecurity onto us, and made us believe we were not enough.

Or maybe we were told we were “too sensitive” because we were able to intuit what was truly happening around us, and others did not want to openly admit the truth. Once again, someone who had a blind spot to their own struggle with integrity may have blamed our intuition as “our crazy imagination.”

As a leader of a company, imagine the impact mindfulness could have on your culture. Instead of your talent becoming irritable and blaming each other when their own hidden or blind self was triggered, they instead could own their reaction and become more aware of integrating and developing this lost self. In addition, they could help each other grow by compassionately realizing we all have aspects of our self just waiting to be embraced and cultivated through greater mindfulness. 

Challenge: Where can mindfulness increase your potential and productivity? 

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Susan K. Wehrley is an executive coach and business consultant that aligns executives and businesses to their vision, values and goals. She is also a regular contributor to Forbes. You can email Susan at, (262) 696-6856 or visit her website for more details.