As CEO, I often get asked, “What keeps you up at night?” It is a good question to ask ourselves, especially as leaders. My answer most of the time is: not much. Does that surprise you? The reason is that I have peace of mind.
As I have grown older (and wiser), peace of mind has become more important to me. I have recognized the impact it has on my work, my ability to lead and my relationships. When you don’t have it, you’re distracted.
You know it when you have it and when you don’t. I pray for peace of mind specifically every day — usually with gratitude that I have it and that it will continue; sometimes that I will regain it.
Peace of mind can be fleeting. We can lose it in an instant, with unexpected bad news. It also can creep up on us with what seems simple. Some people never seem to have it. But those who do, perform and lead better.
There are steps we can take to promote more mindfulness (besides praying). Here are some ideas:
- Write a note.
When I start thinking about an issue and feel my peace of mind wavering, I write a note to myself to focus on the next steps to address what’s on my mind. I keep a pen and paper near my bed. (There is something about lying down that can naturally start a mind race). You may even write about something unrelated, like a list of things you’re grateful for or enjoying, to “quiet” your mind.
- Reframe your thinking.
Step back and ask yourself these questions:
- What’s the worst-case scenario?
- What’s the likely scenario?
- What’s the best outcome?
- What control do I have?
So often the worst-case scenario is not as bad as we’re feeling and outlining the likely scenario reminds us to bring logic back into the equation. Focus on what you have control over and make the best of the rest.
- Seek out someone you trust.
Tell someone close to you about the issue. This helps you get it out of your head and provides you a different (often less cloudy) perspective. Their words will most likely help you work toward a desired outcome faster.
- Increase your knowledge.
Research and acquiring information on the subject at hand can help bring facts, rather than feelings. When we know more, we feel more prepared. Preparation fosters peace of mind. When I am giving a presentation on a new topic for the first time, I remind myself of this.
- Give it time.
The circumstance will dictate the amount of control we have or don’t have. The less control we have, the more time it takes. Sometimes we just have to wait, knowing that it will take time to regain peace of mind.
Mindfulness has been called the ultimate habit for success. It increases resilience to stress (because stress is going to happen), improves decision making and increases emotional intelligence.
Being aware of and managing peace of mind is what good leaders and high performers do. Personally and professionally, it allows us to be less distracted and get back on track sooner. So pay attention to “what keeps you up at night” and take the steps to quiet your mind.