One of the most important qualities that you need to have as a leader is the ability to make decisions which will have a positive impact on your organization, your employees and ultimately, on you.
However, decision making is easier said than done. You will have to bear the consequences for every decision you make.
And as a leader, the decisions that you would make are bound to be tough ones, whether it is deciding on a risky strategic change, finding the right talent, or the inevitable draining task of firing someone.
So how do you make the process less strenuous and ensure that the decisions you make are right?
According to research by Wharton Management professor Signale Barsade and INSEAD professors Andrew C. Hafenbrack and Zoe Kinias, meditation can help decision makers de-bias their minds and make more informed choices.
This is especially beneficial while making decisions that are prone to getting influenced by sunk-cost bias.
The study, titled “Debiasing the Mind through Meditation: Mindfulness and the Sunk-Cost Bias,” which was published in the magazine Psychological Science, shows that even a short 15 minute focused-breathing meditation session could positively impact a person to make smarter choices.
Here are six reasons why you should incorporate meditation into your daily life so that you make smarter decisions that leave a positive impact on everyone around you:
1. De-clutters Your Mind
At any given time, our minds are a cacophony of thoughts, perceptions, and emotions which can affect our decisions.
By practicing brief sessions of mindfulness, you can declutter your mind so that you are able to make better decisions, which are not influenced by other thoughts.
2. Calms You Down
It’s no wonder why scientists call cortisol, the stress hormone, ‘public enemy number 1.’ It interferes with your learning, memory, and decision making abilities.
Numerous studies have shown that meditation helps lower the level of cortisol being produced by the body, thereby reducing stress.
Also, when you meditate, you tune your body to focus on the immediate present, hence blocking out worries of the past or the future.
This will also allow you to approach problems with better clarity, be able to handle work pressure better, and ultimately make more sound decisions.
3. Boosts Brain Function
Apart from having a calming effect, meditation has also been linked to boosting grey matter.
In fact, people who regularly meditate have been found to have a thicker cortex, which is the area in the brain which is associated with functions such as memory and decision making.
Researchers from the University of Waterloo have also found that practicing just 25 minutes of Hatha Yoga and mindfulness meditation can boost the brain function, enhance the cognitive abilities, and control the impulse to have knee-jerk reactions.
4. Boosts Listening Skills
We often have preconceived notions about many thing. This affects our ability to make the right decisions.
Meditation, which guides you to tune inwards, helps you become a better listener, rather than a reactor.
This will enable you to understand all the aspects of any situation or problem that needs to be addressed, without allowing biases to cloud your decision.
5. Strengthens Your Power of Intuition
Many of us tend to make decisions or arrive at certain answers because somewhere, deep within us, we believe that it is right.
Call it gut, instinct, intuition or hunch, these are thoughts that are uninfluenced by anything or anyone else, and which only you can access.
By meditating, you remove the clutter which is in your mind, get rid of the biases and opinions, thereby giving you a clearer path allowing you to listen to what your instinct is telling you.
6. Makes You a More Positive Person
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin, along with Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of MBSR (mindful based stress reduction) put a group of 25 subjects through a weekly meditation training program.
At the end of the program, along with asking the participants how they felt, electrical activity at the left side of the frontal lobe was also measured.
The findings showed more activity in this region, corresponding to lower anxiety levels and a more positive state of mind.
How to Meditate
- Remember, you don’t need to try hard to meditate. Just find yourself a quiet corner, away from your work space, close your eyes and let the thoughts flow. Don’t fight the distractions – acknowledge them and then let them go.
- If a decision that you need to make is stressing you out, you can choose a positive mantra and keep repeating it, and soon you will realize that the negative thoughts and chatter have gone away, and the answer is much clearer.
- Breathing exercises also help. Once you are comfortably seated with your eyes closed, breath in deeply. As you exhale slowly, imagine that all the negative thoughts and biases and flowing away. With each breath in, focus on the present and on the positives. In time, you will notice that your mind is feeling much lighter and clearer.
Ultimately, calmer and happier people make better informed decisions which are not hampered by prejudices – vital factors for achieving growth that is sustainable.
How Can Meditation Help Leaders?
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