Registration just opened and the line is out the door. Your CEO is in rehearsal for the opening keynote when the audiovisual company tells you that the confidence monitor you ordered cannot be repaired in time.
There is nothing you can do. You feel powerless and overwhelmed. Your shoulders get tight, your stomach is in knots, and you have a compelling desire to kick your chair across the room. This is an all-too-familiar situation for meetings professionals. But it doesn’t have to be.
Go from Meaningless to Mindful
According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace, the single greatest contributor to chronic illness is chronic stress, and the leading cause of stress is work that sometimes feels dehumanizing, unenjoyable, and meaningless to the point of anger and frustration.
When you experience and exude stress, your team and your meeting attendees also sense and respond to your stress.
It is time to give yourself and your coworkers permission to co-create a new consciousness in business meetings, one that can transform stress-inducing meaninglessness into mindfulness. Being “mindful” can mean many different things, but in essence, mindfulness is being present without any judgment about what is happening in that exact moment. You simply observe it, and then choose how you can react to it with compassion.
When the stress starts building, stop and observe what is happening. Can you think about the long registration line as just a line of people waiting to register, nothing more and nothing less? This is being present and mindful.
Can you listen to the AV technician and acknowledge the situation with the confidence monitor without judgment or reaction? This is being present and mindful.
7 Ways to Surrender the Stress
To reduce your stress at work, you must choose to become present and mindful in that stressful moment. Surrender the stress and powerlessness to the possibility of a better plan, and you will have a clearer vision for both short-term and long-term profitability and the overall happiness of those who work in and with your organization.
Here are seven things you can do to become mindful, even on the most stressful day:
1. Accept the authenticity of your feelings in the moment.
Feel your feelings full out—even if you have to hide in the bathroom to do it. Don’t stuff or disregard them. Give those feelings acknowledgement and attention until they dissipate.
2. Breathe in and out.
Focus on feeling the air come in your nose and out of your mouth. Repeat this several times until you feel calm and relaxed.
3. Ask for help from people around you.
Don’t assume people around you are too busy or unwilling to help. Asking for assistance from another might just empower them to demonstrate their value by lending a hand.
4. Show compassion toward yourself.
When you take a moment to realize just how wonderful and amazing you are, you attract more compassion from others.
5. State a mantra that inspires you.
My favorite is, “Success is all I see. Success is all I feel. Success is all I know in my business and my life.” Sometimes I will retreat to a private area and repeat my mantra out loud a few times. Taking the time to do that brings me back to the realization that all is well, and what I am saying is affirming the true reality of what is happening now.
6. Use visualization.
Instead of merely taping photos on a board to visualize what you desire for your meetings, take a moment to see and feel yourself really living in those photos. There was a time when I visualized writing and publishing a book with my name on the spine. I even created a mockup of a book, and then I visualized signing it for audience members after I gave a talk. It wasn’t long before my vision became my actual life experience. Ask your meeting participants in the opening session to visualize what they want to feel, see, do, and become. Then ask them if they feel differently about what they envisioned at the end of the conference.
7. Feel and show gratitude—for everything!
Sometimes we are only focused on all those things that keep us off-center, distracted, and stressed out. Is it possible to have gratitude for the presentations, reports, meetings, and deadlines? I am absolutely certain there are people on the planet who wish they could have the perception of "problems" you have. Be grateful in this moment and recognize that the blessings in your life include your "problems."
Some of America’s biggest companies are beginning to practice mindfulness—Salesforce, Target, Procter & Gamble, and Google, to name a few. If this practice is good enough for them, it should be good enough for you.
Mindfulness does not have to be hard; it can actually be easy. All you need to do is recognize that you are a priority and you have choices about how you perceive the events in your life, and the meetings you create. Do you choose calm or desperation? Select one of these practices and try it once each day. Then observe the positive results that come from giving yourself compassion, saying your mantra, breathing in and out with awareness, and sharing gratitude.
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