The Only Teacher is Self-Awareness

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Reprise: Living with Permanent Uncertainty

One of my very favorite (and perhaps one of the most profound) articles on leadership that I’ve read is “Leadership In Turbulent Times Is Spiritual” by Margaret J. Wheatley.

In the article, Wheatley reminds her readers that “as times grow more chaotic, as people question the meaning (and meaninglessness) of this life, people are clamoring for their leaders to save and rescue them.” In times of uncertainty when there are no easy and ready answers, she describes a desperate people that presses “their leaders to stop the chaos, to make things better, to create stability.” She continues: “And even leaders who would never become dictators, those devoted to servant leadership, walk into this trap. They want to help, so they exert more control over the disorder. They try to create safety, to insulate people from the realities of change. They try and give answers to dilemmas that have no answers.”

Wheatley challenges the myth and “trap” that leaders fall into and reframes leadership in turbulent times as helping “people move into a relationship with uncertainty and chaos.” To be successful, leaders “must enter the domain of spiritual traditions.” Why? Because “as our world grows more chaotic and unpredictable, we are forced to ask questions that have, historically, always been answered by spiritual traditions. How do I live in uncertainty, unable to know what will happen next? How do I maintain my values when worldly temptations abound? What is the meaning of my life? Why am I here at this time? Where can I find the courage and faith to stay the course?”

In her blog “Living with Permanent Uncertainty,” Louise Altman invites her readers to a similar domain and shares the wisdom of another modern day mystic like Margaret Wheatley, namely, Pema Chodron. Altman speaks to the resistance that is often the only certainty in the midst of uncertainty and offers some practical ways to address it our lives and as leaders. Read more by clicking here.


Introducing Mindfulness in Healthcare Organizations

Inspired by Daniel Goleman’s July 28, 2013 article “Introducing Mindfulness in Organizations,” I posted the following discussion question on several LinkedIn Groups: “…I am making an assumption that introducing mindfulness in hospitals and healthcare organizations is important and of interest. I do believe it is critically important for person-centered (staff, physician, leader and patient/family) care. Do you agree? If so, what are some effective ways of introducing mindfulness in healthcare?”

Immediately after posting the discussion question, I found a partial answer in Louise Altman’s July 25, 2013 blog “Mindfulness is a Whole Body Experience.” Altman writes:

Dr. Daniel Beal co-author of a Rice University study on emotional suppression in the workplace comments, ‘Our study shows that emotional suppression takes a toll on people. It takes energy to suppress emotions, so it’s not surprising that workers who must remain neutral are often more rundown or show greater levels of burnout. The more energy you spend controlling your emotions, the less energy you have to devote to tasks at hand.’

While there are many professions that require its workers to “remain neutral,” healthcare — with its added life-saving stresses and inherent risks — is a prime environment in which its workers are expected to remain emotionally neutral in the face of never-ending and complex demands.

Perhaps, one of the most basic and fundamental ways of introducing mindfulness in healthcare organizations is to highlight the benefits that mindfulness training and practice could have on its caregivers who experience constant stress and demands on and the emotional suppression and neutrality often required of them. Mindfulness and emotional intelligence are inextricably linked; therefore, it seems to me that introducing mindfulness in healthcare organizations would not only improve the caregiver experience but directly correlate to the patient and family experience as well.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on the subject:

While “I am making an assumption that introducing mindfulness in hospitals and healthcare organizations is important and of interest. I do believe it is critically important for person-centered (staff, physician, leader and patient/family) care. Do you agree? If so, what are some effective ways of introducing mindfulness in healthcare?”

Thanks for reading! I look forward to your comments and thoughts.