About Mindlessness and Mindfulness

Leading the wayWhen reading about mindfulness in the workplace and more “mindful” organizations, have you ever thought about what it meant if somebody is “mindless”?

In her article “A call for mindful leadership” on the HBR Blog Network, Ellen Langer addresses this interesting question. She rightly says:

“When leaders keep everyone in their place with the illusion of knowability and possession of this privileged knowledge[1] the benefit to them is that we ‘obey’ and leaders feel superior. The cost is that they create lemmings. Their mindlessness promotes our own mindlessness which costs us our well being and health. Net result, the leader, the led, and the company all lose.”

I don’t know about you but I have seen many “mindless” people throughout my career. Many are scared of change, scared to look inside themselves and listen to their gut feeling, scared to loose their jobs, in sum: scared of uncertainty and not-knowing what will happen next.

Mindfulness in turn, allows you to live day by day and to deal with threats/take up opportunities as they arise; you are confident and positive as you know yourself and your abilities. As Margaret Wheatley puts it:

“Leaders are so afraid of paradox, so afraid of uncertainty. It takes a lot of bravery even to consider that uncertainty is not a threat, that in fact it’s creative and powerful. “

Or in the words of Ellen Langer:

“By learning how to exploit the power of uncertainty maybe all of us will wake up.”

Are you ready to take up the challenge?

[1] In fact being mindless as they cannot predict the future.