If you’re like most business leaders and entrepreneurs, you know what it’s like to be stressed. Those years of nonstop work provide us with exciting dream careers and anxiety-ridden sleepless nights. Stress is simply part of the deal, right?
To an extent, sure. Nobody said entrepreneurship was easy. But, if the pressures of leadership are unavoidable, do we have to accept stress and the consequences that come with it?
Not by a longshot.
Admittedly, it took me years to find a useful life tool—mindfulness and meditation.
I know. I know. Sitting alone in silence probably sounds like the worst way for a busy business entrepreneur to spend their precious time. However, this small time investment has paid me back in ways I never could’ve imagined.
Becoming a Mindful Leader
I first started my meditation practice back in 2005. By that point, I’d been running my Detroit-based print management business imageOne with my co-founder for over a decade.
The company was thriving. I felt like the complete opposite emotionally. The responsibilities of leadership were overwhelming. I was under constant pressure, even during the moments when I said I’d let myself relax.
It all came to a head when I was on a family vacation with my wife and two young kids. They were all outside together, enjoying the beautiful Northern Michigan day. I was inside the house working away. Even here, I felt no escape from the pressure.
Was this really the life I wanted?
That’s when meditation popped into my head. I’d heard about the practice before, but always pushed the idea of actually trying it to the side. I didn’t have time for doing nothing. But now, nearly on the verge of tears, I thought, “What do I have to lose?”
I looked across the room, saw a comfy chair, and told myself, “Rob. Go sit in that chair and breathe in and out for five minutes.”
So I did, and at the end of those five minutes—I felt better. My frustrations didn’t disappear. My problems still existed. However, for the first time in a really long time, I was calm, clear-headed, and maybe even a little relaxed.
Intrigued by the experience but still a little skeptical, I began to look for evidence supporting how I felt after meditating. I uncovered academic research from top universities like Harvard and accounts from big-name business leaders that further established the advantages of taking on a mindful meditation practice.
That’s when I knew that the emotions I had after sitting in the chair weren’t a fluke. They were real, and I was hooked.
Bringing Mindfulness Into the Workplace
Since that day, meditation has become an integral part of my daily life. I also take bi-annual silent retreats to strengthen my practice. The benefits have been astounding. For one, I’ve become a better leader in countless ways. I’m more productive, make smarter business decisions and connect on a deeper level with my team members.
Meditation has also changed how I view my leadership role. I became motivated to bring positive, supportive energy into the office every day while encouraging my employees to do the same. Now that I knew the impact of a healthy, happy work-life balance, I wanted my team to enjoy the benefits of mindfulness as well.
Since then, imageOne has received multiple workplace culture awards, including recognition as a Forbes Small Giant, which acknowledges 25 U.S. small businesses every year with having an exceptional culture. I couldn’t be prouder of my team.
Start Your Meditation Practice Here
In the below video that I’m honored to share with other entrepreneurs and EO—a community I’ve proudly been a part of for 25 years—I’ll dig deeper into the benefits of mindfulness and meditation for leaders and entrepreneurs. I’ll also give a brief introduction about how to start a meditation practice of your own.
Happy meditating entrepreneurs and fellow EO members!