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Graham Williams

Centre-ing Services


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Deeper mindfulness for better work performance pt1


Are you looking for a more spiritual way to improve your working day? Graham Williams provides the community with a useful introduction to deeper mindfulness.


The world of business is increasingly becoming a world of busyness. Frenetic activity, the constant chasing of deadlines, more and more challenges from more and more sources - for many it's what the Red Queen told Alice: "It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"
Scientists are showing that when our brains are occupied with digital interactions, for example cell phones, we prevent natural memory and learning functioning. Umair Haque suggests that we need to make time to break away from 'doing' and to reflect more. He observes that "the break-throughs, that re-imagine, reinvent, and re-conceive a product, a company, a market, an industry, or perhaps even an entire economy rarely come from...busier and busier work. Rather, in the outperformers that I've spent time with and studied, break-throughs demand systematic, structured periods for reflection — to ruminate on, synthesise, and integrate fragments of questions, answers, and thoughts about what's not good enough, what's just plain awful, and how it could be made radically better”(1).
" modern neuroscience and the ancient art of mindfulness continue to merge and be adopted by business, it is becoming clear that mindfulness is closely related to reflection and carries much benefit for business."

Trouble is, too few know how to practice, let alone introduce a culture of reflection. But as modern neuroscience and the ancient art of mindfulness continue to merge and be adopted by business, it is becoming clear that mindfulness is closely related to reflection and carries much benefit for business. Indeed, the introduction of mindfulness practice leads smoothly to a culture of reflection.  

This article offers a start-point to the development of personal mindfulness.


Mindfulness can be described as "...the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment"(2). 

There has been a recent plea to introduce the concept of scientific mindfulness to international business research: "The road ahead: scientific mindfulness. Because of the complexity and magnitude of international business questions, researchers must engage in scientific mindfulness to generate relevant ideas, themes and responses. This means taking a thoughtful approach that is holistic, contextual and cross-disciplinary; it is an approach that transcends the boundaries of traditional disciplines and features depth and breadth of idea generation"(3).  

Some leading advocates are Peter Senge (of Learning Organisations fame), Joseph Jaworski (known for his work on inner dimensions of leadership, synchronicity), and Otto Scharmer (originator of Theory U: becoming aware in new ways, letting go and letting come, co-creating the emerging future by prototyping)(4).     

Practicing mindfulness allows us to be present and in touch with ourselves, develop a real sense of belonging, and improve our alertness in all that we do, all the time. Better performance through a better way of working.

Being present

For every present moment – whether we are in nature, having an important conversation, thinking, doing an activity, hearing our inner voice, conducting business – the quality of our reactions, responses, contributions and living can be enhanced through being more aware, more mindful. Some synonyms for mindful are: watchful, aware, heedful, alert and attentive. Use whichever word works best for you.

A tenet of the Jewish religion is that every single moment is filled with God and thus sufficient just as it is. Thus every breath is a prayer. As is every heartbeat, every taste, every movement, every sound, every laugh.

"For every present moment the quality of our reactions, responses, contributions and living can be enhanced through being more aware, more mindful."

A young girl approaches her father and asks, "Is it true that when we are asleep, we can wake up?"
Her father assures her, "Of course it is true".
"Then", says the girl, "it must also be true that when we are awake we can wake up more".

Overcoming constraints to mindfulness

Often, deeper mindfulness eludes us because we are too caught up by the strangling noose of past baggage, busyness or future concerns.

An educated man sought the simplicity of Zen awareness.
He visited a Master for help.
The Master poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The man watched aghast as the Master kept on pouring and the tea continued to overflow onto the table, off the table onto the floor.
And the pouring continued.
At last the exasperated visitor cried out "Stop. No more! The cup cannot hold any more".
"Just like this cup" said the Master "You are so full of your own worries and analyses, that you cannot achieve awareness. First you must empty your cup".

Part 2 will be published next week, complete with a personal mindfulness checklist.


  1. Haque, Umair  Making Room for Reflection is a Strategic Imperative
  2. Kabat-Zinn, Jon  Full Catastrophe Living  Piatkus  2003
  3. Jonsen, Karsten & Maznevski, Martha What’s the Future for International Business Research: introducing the concept of scientific mindfulness
  4. Scharmer, Otto  Theory U: leading from the future as it emerges  Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc San Francisco  2009

Graham Williams of Centre-ing Services works with organisations to introduce mindfulness and imagination, utilising story and practical exercises as mechanisms to impart new outlooks, skill and confidence. He is a thought leader for the Institute of Management Consultants. Members of his initiative have access to loads of information on mindfulness, imagination and story. Graham would welcome questions on any aspect of deeper mindfulness

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Graham Williams


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