Unlocking the Power of Mindfulness: Why Entrepreneurs and Founders Need It to Thrive
As a leader, your mind is your greatest asset. That's why incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine is essential for success. Discover the power of mindfulness and how it can transform your leadership and business in ways you never thought possible. Get ready to unlock your full potential! And as always: Baby steps count! Improvement comes over time and doability, not with speed.
Mindfulness for entrepreneurs — How to adopt a mindset that can improve your business and your life
I use the start of my article again to give some examples from my life as an entrepreneur. I have been on a roller coaster for over eight years, and no, it's not always fun. As an entrepreneur and founder, you will always have ups and downs, so prepare yourself. But there are several techniques and methods out there that you can use to balance your life, get more productive and prevent yourself from losing your mind.
Practicing Mindfulness is one of them. Everyone in our "bubble" talks about it. What does Mindfulness even mean? Well, I always compare being mindful with being aware of your state of mind, body and diet, exercise routine, vision and goals, relationships, and every other topic that plays a role in your life. Practicing Mindfulness will help you improve little by little over time and build a healthy relationship with yourself. This relationship is critical for everything you want to start, build, change, end, or improve. As always, don't rush. Practising Mindfulness also means being aware of what's wrong with the status quo and implementing small changes in your daily life.
For me, implementing a daily meditation routine, some changes regarding workouts and sleeping habits, and more time for creativity have already changed a lot. Minor improvements can help you deal with challenging periods and stress; you should try them.
A brief explanation of the practice
At its core, Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment. By focusing on the present, we can free ourselves from the distractions and anxieties of the past and future and tap into a more profound sense of calm and clarity. This can have a profound impact on our mental and emotional well-being, as well as our ability to succeed as entrepreneurs and business leaders. In this article, we'll explore the basics of Mindfulness and how you can start incorporating it into your daily routine to transform your life and leadership. I will focus on the topics that matter the most in the beginning.
A selection of benefits that are associated with learning how to practice Mindfulness
Here is a quick overview of the most essential advantages I found over the past years:
Increased focus and productivity
Improved decision-making and problem-solving skills
Enhanced emotional intelligence and interpersonal relationships
Reduced stress and improved resilience
Increased creativity and innovation
Enhanced overall well-being
Improved sleep and reduced fatigue
Better time management and prioritization
Increased mental clarity and reduced anxiety
Provides a competitive advantage in a fast-paced and ever-changing business world.
Basic Mindfulness Meditation
Starting with meditation changed my life completely. And no, I am not an expert and don't practice it for hours. Start small. Even a couple of minutes daily can make a huge difference and is doable for everyone.
Mindfulness meditation is one of the most common and effective ways to practice Mindfulness. It involves sitting in a quiet, comfortable space and focusing on the present moment, usually by paying attention to your breath or a specific sensation in your body.
Mindfulness meditation can profoundly impact your well-being and success as a leader, helping you develop greater focus, clarity, and resilience in facing challenges.
You can try guided meditation using one of the hundreds of apps or cut technology entirely like I did. It is ultimately up to you!
What are the benefits of meditation?
Here is my list of the key benefits. There are certainly much more, but those should be the most relevant for you as founders and entrepreneurs:
Improved focus and productivity
Reduced stress and anxiety
Increased emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills
Improved decision-making and problem-solving skills
Increased creativity and innovation
Enhanced overall well-being
Improved sleep and reduced fatigue
Reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety
Increased immune function and general health
Greater self-awareness and personal growth
Off-time from screens (yes, every minute counts!)
Avoid habits that reduce mindfulness
While many habits can enhance Mindfulness, many of our daily traditions can detract from it. Here is the "To-Avoid-List":
Excessive multitasking and task-switching
Over-reliance on technology and digital devices
Lack of sleep or poor sleep habits
Unhealthy eating habits, including overeating or undereating
Substance abuse, including drugs and alcohol (don't overdo it)
Negative self-talk and rumination
Procrastination and avoidance behavior
Overworking or failing to take breaks and downtime
Lack of exercise or physical activity
Isolation and social disconnection.
It improves health
The practice of Mindfulness has been shown to have numerous health benefits for entrepreneurs and business leaders. From reducing stress and anxiety to improving sleep, digestion, and immune function, Mindfulness can have a powerful impact on your overall physical and mental well-being.
It will work overtime if you stick to it. Especially when it comes to anxiety, slipping in an exercise that brings you back on track can make a huge difference. I don't know how it is on your side, but in my experience, anxiety always kicks in early in the day. Mondays have been the worst days for me for a while. Most bad thoughts are made up by yourself, so you also have the power to get rid of them. That's why implementing, for example, meditation or breathing exercises early in the morning will impact the whole day. Stress is not your friend in the long run.
What are some examples of mindfulness exercises?
There are many mindfulness exercises that entrepreneurs and business leaders can practice to improve their well-being and success. Here are a few examples that are working for me. More are out there, but we have to start somewhere.
Mindful breathing: Focusing on your breath is a simple but powerful way to cultivate Mindfulness. Start by taking a few deep breaths, then focus on the sensation of air moving in and out of your body. Notice the rise and fall of your chest or the feeling of your breath in your nose or mouth. Add music on demand.
Body scan meditation: This technique involves scanning your body for sensations and becoming more aware of your physical state. Lie or sit comfortably, then focus on each part of your body, from your toes to the top of your head. I used that before getting some personal trainer hours. Our busy lives do not have the best impact on our bodies. I always worked out, but since adding this small change, my workouts also switched from heavyweight to mindful movements (including heavyweight ;))
Mindful eating: Paying attention to what you eat and how you eat it can help you cultivate Mindfulness throughout the day. Take time to savor the flavors and textures of your food, and notice how it makes you feel. This can be hard if you are always rushing, like me. But give it a try. It will also improve your social life.
Mindful walking: Walking mindfully involves paying attention to each step and the sensations in your body as you move. Whether walking outside or indoors, focus on your feet touching the ground and moving your legs and arms. If you are walking outside, get some connection with your surroundings. I mostly add music or audiobooks, but you can also try longer walks without them. It will help you to focus on your "inner podcast."
Gratitude practice: Practicing gratitude involves focusing on the positive things in your life and being thankful for them. Take time each day to reflect on what you're grateful for, and notice how this affects your mood and overall well-being. A good tool you can use here is a pen and paper. In other words: Start journaling!
When and how often should I practice mindfulness exercises?
That is entirely up to you. I can only recommend starting slowly. Why? Because we tend to overwhelm ourselves with too many changes at the same time. That will not work out, and the resistance will be too strong. Baby steps can help you to stick to any new routine. That goes from implementing meditation, adapting your diet, or increasing your step count.
No one can do everything and stick to it forever. It is not needed. For example, start with 5 minutes of meditation in the morning, write down the top three things you are grateful for, and skip elevators to take the steps. Small changes matter. The same goes for adaptations in your diet. Start small by improving one of your daily meals first.
Use "cheat meals" as treats for yourself, or enjoy them with your partner or friends. The same goes for alcohol, unfortunately. I also like beer and wine, and it's OK to enjoy it as a treat from time to time. But it affects everything from your gym performance, productivity, or activities in bed (yes, sleep and sex). Moderation is key!
How to embrace mindfulness at work
Incorporating Mindfulness into your work routine can significantly impact your success and well-being as an entrepreneur or business leader. Here are a few tips for embracing Mindfulness at work:
Take short breaks: Take short breaks throughout the day to step away from work and recharge your mind. Use this time to practice mindfulness exercises such as deep breathing, meditation, or enjoying a cup of tea or coffee mindfully.
Focus on one task at a time: Avoid multitasking as it can reduce Mindfulness and productivity. Instead, prioritize tasks and give each one your full attention.
Minimize distractions: In today's world, it's easy to get distracted by technology, noise, and interruptions. Minimize these distractions by turning off notifications, closing unnecessary tabs, and avoiding work environments that are too noisy.
Practice active listening: Practicing active listening involves being present and fully engaged in conversations with your colleagues or team. This fosters deeper relationships and can help reduce stress and conflicts at work.
Create a mindful work environment: Make small changes to your work environment, such as adding plants, pictures, or artwork to reduce stress and promote Mindfulness at work.
I have been talking about those tips several times during my video sessions about "Mindfulness." And yes, I repeat them often, but they are crucial. As we live in a high-speed world, and the speed is going up constantly, learning to focus, not lose track, and be a respectful communication partner is essential.
A Basic Meditation for Beginners
This is not a step-by-step guide you can find in almost every book, podcast, or dedicated YouTube Channel. I will share my daily meditation routine, which only takes 10 minutes. Feel free to adapt, use tools, or extend the time.
For me, mornings are very crucial. Why? My mornings determine how my entire day will work out for me. That's why I tried many mediation techniques over time, from apps to adding music to the mix. It did not work out because I wanted to get rid of my phone and any noise for the first couple of minutes of my day. I also need to count my inhale and exhale time. You will get used to your rhythm and don't have to overengineer it.
So here is what works for me:
I am changing from bed to living room without using the "Snooze" button.
A little bit of stretching to wake up fully, finally.
I sit on the floor (carpet) to do my session. Anything too soft is wrong for your posture.
Focus on deeper inhaling and exhaling with eyes still open for a minute or two.
I don't use a timer and let it flow. Close my eyes and focus on my breath entirely for around five to ten minutes. Sometimes I finish after approximately five minutes, but I also have days where I need more than 10 minutes.
No music, no phone, no headsets, no artificial light.
Thats it! Most days, I follow that up with a few minutes of journaling while drinking my first coffee. This order of my routine works the best. The total time you have to spend is around 15 minutes. Doable and significantly better than scrolling through four Instagram or TikTok feeds.
Schedule your day mindfully
When it comes to scheduling, I also keep it very simple. Use your calendar and put your stuff in. But before, you must be aware of your time and how you usually spend it. That's why prioritization is so important.
A full calendar where you can only achieve 30 or 50% of your high-priority tasks is not something you should be proud of. Because you are going to shift things around, run into delays, and in the end, frustration and more stress. The same also goes for mindful exercises. Schedule them so that your time is blocked.
But make it realistic. It will only bring you somewhere if you schedule morning routines at 06:00 if you first have to get into a different sleeping routine. If you are usually getting up at 08:00, the whole story is different. The same goes for gym sessions and private time. You have to balance your personal life and work duties well. And only schedule six meetings straight with breaks - it will not work out. And, in general, get rid of useless meetings. It's way more efficient to prioritize tasks first and then schedule some deep work time where you get them done.
Whatever you schedule, try to stick to it after a few needed adaptations in the beginning. You will need at least a month to internalize new routines, and that's completely normal.
Not getting enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is essential for overall well-being and success as an entrepreneur or business leader. Lack of sleep can lead to increased stress and anxiety, reduced focus and productivity, and various health problems. By making sleep a priority and incorporating mindfulness practices into your bedtime routine, you can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day with renewed energy and focus.
Binge-watching until late, not getting off work, and many networking events. The list goes on. It might look hard to change that, but it's not. Especially during the week, it is essential to stick to a sleeping schedule. For me, 11 PM - 6 AM works the best. Seven hours is the exact duration I need to start a new day with energy and the right mindset.
But the work does not end here. For me, the last hour before bedtime was always a deciding factor regarding my sleep quality. In the best case scenario, I finished my previous meal way before that did not plan late, heavy workouts, or too much screentime. Especially the last part is the hardest. I was eating at around 7-8 PM and changing my gym workouts to 08:30 AM, but I was still a victim of social media and television. Getting rid of that is still hard.
Many of us fall into the "Netflix trap" or "just another episode trap." if you love watching a good movie in the evening, there is nothing wrong with it. But also try to use it as a treat, if needed. Getting off any screens at least an hour before your regular bedtime will change your quality of sleep tremendously.
Weekends can be an exception. But as we grow older, we must be careful with excessive clubbing activities or alcohol. I think everyone who is also in their thirties now knows what I am talking about. Recovery is not getting faster.
Several benefits come with mindfulness practice. Take a deep breath and pause for a few moments. If you are feeling some negative emotions now, there is no need. By implementing Mindfulness into your daily life, you can gain control of bad habits and remove or improve them.
Practice mindfulness meditation to get back your self-awareness. There are several meditation practices; choose what's best for you. Walking meditation, sitting meditation, and using tools. Whatever works for you, do it because the most important thing here is that you meditate.
If you are stressed out all the time, Mindfulness-based stress reduction is there to help you out. Begin with doable routines you can implement into your daily life. Stay focused on what matters the most and handle your emotions way better.
Mindful movement beats exercising without a goal and plan. If your body does not feel right to you, it will help to develop a better relationship with food and pay attention to getting enough movement in. Start small and use a simple practice you can stick to.
Get your sleep routine right. Sleep quality determines your productivity and energy level throughout the day. Stick to a schedule that is doable for you, cut out too many distractions one hour before bed, and you will fall asleep easier.
As always, the tips, tricks, and routines described in this article helped me personally as an entrepreneur and founder over the last few years. There are several ways to practice Mindfulness, but I found those minor adaptations very "user-friendly" and doable. Remember: Baby steps count!
Something to laugh
Why did the entrepreneur start practicing mindfulness?
Because they realized their mind was their greatest asset, and they needed to take better care of their best employee! 😄
Here is a list of books for some deep dives into the topic. There are way more, and feel free to add yours to the comments. I will add them to the list later.
"Mindful Work: How Meditation Is Changing Business from the Inside Out" by David Gelles
"The Mindful Leader: 7 Practices for Transforming Your Leadership, Your Organisation and Your Life" by Michael Bunting
"Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges" by Amy Cuddy
"The Mindful Entrepreneur: How to rapidly grow your business while staying sane, focused and fulfilled" by Joel Gerschman
"The Mindful CEO: A Mindful Approach to Leading People and Organizations" by Ruth Wageman and Peter M. Senge
"The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day" by Andy Puddicombe
"The Mindful Day: Practical Ways to Find Focus, Calm, and Joy From Morning to Evening" by Laurie J. Cameron
"Mindful Leadership: The 9 Ways to Self-Awareness, Transforming Yourself, and Inspiring Others" by Maria Gonzalez
"The Art of Mindful Leadership: Embodying Authenticity and Purpose" by Maria Gonzalez
"Mindfulness @ Work: A Leading with Emotional Intelligence Conversation with Jon Kabat-Zinn" by Daniel Goleman and Jon Kabat-Zinn.