This day and age, it seems that being able to multi-task or juggle multiple spinning plates is the “in” thing. The busier one seems, the more heroic or cool that person is. How often do you hear tales of corporate heroes working 25 hours a day because their plate is so full and they are trying to hop from one task to another, just trying to keep those plates spinning and be in control?
I would know, I used to be one of them…I have been associated with awards, judging, and quality for many years and it is something I have done on top of my “day job”. My brain would focus on work problems, meetings, conversations whilst I was trying to mark submissions from candidates who had spent hours and hours writing them, from Six Sigma black belts who had spent months delivering a project, wrote amazing decks and submissions and would be panicking to hear my verdict.
One day, I thought to myself – Hold on a minute….I am actually cheating those guys…They do look up to me, to what I will write and expect my full attention and I cannot even give them that. This is when I discovered the need for mindfulness. Do I now sit in lotus position singing “Om” whilst marking submission? Have I let my beard grow to look wiser? No to all of the above. If you ask the world trusted Google, mindfulness is “mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment,…whilst accepting thoughts…” So, what did this jargon mean in plain English? Well, I learned to focus on the present moment, not thinking about what I needed to do next but what I am doing right now. So, let’s use the IBX Awards, which I was privileged to judge, as an example. We, judges, receive quite a large number of written submission to review and mark (including providing feedback) to determine which candidates make it to the finals. Mindfulness allowed me to focus just on the submission I was marking, not think about my work, how many more submissions I needed to mark, etc. Then, during the finals, we sit and witness the candidates spend what must be a tough 15 minutes presenting to us. Again, it allows me to focus just on the is happening in the room at that specific moment, forget my mobile phone, how many emails I might have missed, which meeting I should be in. So, the presenter has my full and undivided attention. It allows me to ask more pointed questions as my brain “limited” itself to one and one thing only. The marking post questions is also done much faster as it all seems so much fresher and crisp.
So, is mindfulness some kind of magic? Absolutely not, but what it did – and I believe makes me a better judge than I was before – is helped me focus on the present moment…and that, from a candidate perspective is the best present us judges can give them.