I’ve just got home from a one-month meditation retreat in Spain.
What a privilege to have a month to literally do nothing but sit, close my eyes and meditate. I’m very grateful to my family (and Trish in particular) and my team for making it possible.
So we’d do yoga in the morning and then sit around trying not to think all day*. Then at dinner someone would ask me what I do, and I’d say I run a company called Thought Leaders. Was very funny (well, was to me anyway).
But strangely enough I reckon not thinking is one of the most powerful things a thought leader can do. Before you think I’ve completely lost my mind (which in a way is also the intent of a meditation practice) let me explain.
As I’ve often said the job of a thought leader is to think, sell and deliver. Here’s how not thinking – or being present, or having a mindfulness practice – helps each one.
You best ideas come to you when you’re not actually thinking. Inspiration isn’t a linear process where you start at A and work your way through methodically to the genius idea at Z. As my friend and Thought Leader’s founder Matt Church says, our best ideas feel like they come through us, not from us.
(I also think it’s a useful belief that our ideas aren’t ours anyway, but that’s a topic for another blog.)
I’m pretty good at selling, even if I do say so myself. And one of the reasons is that I’m reasonably skilled at staying unattached to the outcome of the conversation.
I think a lot of people get tripped up by getting attached to (or concerned about, or desperate for) the result. We really want the sale. Which of course is about the future. If we can stay in the present moment, and let the outcome take care of itself, everything gets better.
I was speaking to one of the teachers on the retreat who has been teaching meditation for a decade. He’s also started coaching over the last couple of years and his clients have been getting some great results. I’m not surprised … the best coaches are very present.
In my experience my best writing happens when I’m not there … again it feels like it’s just coming through me. And great speakers aren’t in their head thinking about what they are going to say next, they are in the present moment, connected to themselves and to their audience.
I believe that all your delivery is better if you are in the present moment rather than thinking about what’s just happened, or what’s going to happen.
In fact, just about everything gets better if that’s what you do. Think about that for a while.
* Actually it’s a bit more layered than that. The intent is to observe any thoughts that arise, notice when you’ve grabbed onto one, and then come back to the present moment.