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Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought. Albert Szent Gyorgi

Ted Garratt is one of the best coaches and trainers I have ever met.  He has had great success working with global businesses (such as Akzo Nobel and Alstom) and in professional sport (including Leicester Tigers, England Rugby and Leicestershire County Cricket).  He has written three books (to date!) ‘The Effective Delivery of Training Using NLP’, ‘Sporting Excellence’ and his most recent, ‘Coaching for the Zone’.

Continually researching and experimenting with innovative new coaching and mentoring techniques, he is currently working extensively with mindfulness and has formed an alliance with the Midlands Centre for Mindfulness to work in areas of mutual interest.  I am delighted that he has agreed to contribute an occasional series on mindfulness for our website.  The first introductory one is found in our Blogs section with the title “Using Mindfulness in Business and Sport”.

I’m sure you’ll find it interesting.  It is clearly a hot topic in so many fields, including performance and health so both Ted and I are hoping that it becomes a trigger for you to add comments about your own experience of mindfulness (or the lack of it) and its impact.

Why has Mindfulness Become the Topic of the Moment?

Within Business and Sport people today are subjected to more scrutiny than ever before, particularly regarding results. This has created a situation where stress levels, turnover of people, poor performance and many other factors are taking their toll. Mindfulness is a key way of helping people help themselves to deal with these issues in a more purposeful way by keeping them in the present moment and not getting distracted by other thoughts.

I became more interested in Mindfulness a number of years ago when researching my book ‘Coaching For The Zone - A Practitioners Guide to Coaching for Business and Sport,’ as top performers irrespective of the context  seemed to have the ability to be totally involved in the present moment. This led me to including Mindfulness into my day to day work as a Coach.

What is Mindfulness ?

Mindfulness has been described in a number of ways. The most popular one is by Jon Kabat-Zin who is considered to be the originator of the modern approach to Mindfulness. In 1994 he said “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”.

Other definitions, taken from the Oxford Dictionary are :-

“A mental state achieved by focussing one’s attention on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique“.

“The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something“.

Many people find it difficult to control their thoughts and are easily distracted and diverted, often into the past or the future and are unable to fully focus on NOW and what is currently happening. Therefore they are unable to get the most out of any given moment or situation. Being able to do this is the essence of Mindfulness and where it can make a powerful impact on the effective leader. Staying constantly in the moment, while at the same time being aware of your own thinking, emotional and physiological responses is a major plus.

Equally anyone playing sport at any level would also benefit from developing Mindfulness skills to enable them to improve their performance.

How long has Mindfulness been around?

How long is a piece of string? It’s origins tend to be associated with Buddhism and the development of meditation practices more than two thousand years ago, so it has a long history although it is only in more recent years that it has become more mainstream, popular and researched and although associated with Buddhism it is actually not tied into any particular belief system so is open to everyone.

 So what should I consider if I am considering looking at Mindfulness?

For me it all comes down to does it work and help. I don’t see it as an academic witch hunt used to disprove something that genuinely helps people move forward and improve their lives and performance. My view is try it and see and that is what I would advise anyone interested in Mindfulness to do.  This is what I have done a lot recently with leaders both in business and sport.

 Are there any people in particular who should be looking at Mindfulness?

As mentioned earlier it would help most people, however the people who seem to be most interested in Mindfulness include:-

  • People who want to improve their skills as a Leader
  • Individuals from any sector or background who wish to improve their knowledge and skills in using Mindfulness
  • Anyone interested in improving their own self development and potential
  • People with a special interest in the field of improving human performance
  • Coaches or anyone interested in coaching Mindfulness
  • Managers who wish to improve their skills in managing people

Mindfulness is massively important and growing in influence in many fields.  Please add comments about your own experience of mindfulness (or the lack of it).  This will be a great way to share people’s experience of mindfulness and its impact on people and organisations.

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