Originally published in Forbes
Do you want to experience greater emotional intelligence, resilience and focus? Do you want deep, portal-opening, seismic shift insights? Some research points to meditation as the answer.
I’ve just returned from a meditation retreat where I spent six days with other entrepreneurs, executives, explorers and dreamers. Within hours of leaving the retreat, I developed the following seven spiritual guidelines for success.
While incorporating even just one of these guidelines could benefit your focus, productivity and creative thinking, I believe progressively bringing in all seven will allow you to sustainably operate above the noise and distraction that is pulling the majority of workers off-task.
1. Be in the room.
Metaphorically speaking, “staying in the room” means staying present. The second you’re caught up in your thoughts, you’ve left the proverbial room and exited the “now.” Simply put: You can’t be in your thoughts and completely present at the same time.
As a leader, you might sometimes find yourself in an all-too-familiar situation where you feel like already know everything being discussed. As a result, you might be tempted to check out. But, when you choose to stay in the room, both literally and metaphorically, you stay open to receiving the serendipitous opportunities that were hiding in plain sight. Maintain what I call a “beginners mind.” Stay open, curious, interested and humble, and believe you’re in that room for a reason.
2. Don’t only focus on yourself.
Staying in the “I am-ness” means recognizing the world around you is the hero, not you. There is a well-known optical illusion, called Rubin’s Vase, that, to some, is the image of a vase or, to others, two faces. Many people initially see only the vase without noticing the two faces outlining it. Yet, once you see the two faces, it’s difficult to unsee them.
From my perspective, this example illustrates how some people see themselves the heroes of their own lives. They are the “vase,” and they focus so intently on themselves that the world around them fades in comparison. Switch your focus away from the egoic “me” and over to the universal “I am.” This will help you tap into the field of infinite potentiality where everything is possible.
At its simplest translation, switching from “me” to “I am” would look like switching your language from focusing on your features to your benefits. Instead of attempting to influence a client or customer by communicating how brilliant you are, communicate how brilliant they are. Ask and understand their wants and needs, and show up as the blank canvas that can be painted in so many different ways to create a collective masterpiece.
3. Stay alert to synchronicity.
I’ve found that many of us miss synchronicity — seemingly miraculous, serendipitous events — because we have our heads buried in our phones. Staying alert to synchronicity means paying attention to little things, such as reading the corkboard while you’re waiting for your coffee instead of checking Instagram. In a business setting, make eye contact with fellow colleagues, and be open to the opportunity to strike up a conversation with someone new. Staying alert for synchronicity requires you to be an open channel and focus on letting go of distractions.
4. Play The Surrender Experiment.
From Michael Singer’s book of the same name, “playing with surrender” means that when life presents you with an unexpected request or opportunity, even one that interferes with your original plans or immediate preferences, you don’t discount it.
Instead, check in with your body, and see what happens. If you experience an expansion in your body when you think of the request or opportunity, say, “Yes,” even if your mind says, “No.” Playing with surrender is ultimately about letting go of control and trusting that if you’re being given something — or being denied something — life knows what it’s doing, and there are greater rewards in store for you than you could possibly imagine.
5. Think of how you can serve others.
Personal Achievement Philosopher Jim Rohn said, “You can have everything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want out of life.” So next time you’re thinking, “What’s in it for me?” think instead, “What can I bring to this? What can I contribute? How can I serve? Who can I help?” If you only lived by that one rule, you might be amazed at how many things would be taken care of for you in business, without you having to do anything.
6. Be patient.
Rather than believing you have to come up with every idea, that you are solely responsible for making things happen and that you must figure out how to get to the next level in your company, be a space through which life can flow, create and emerge.
In other words, get out of your own way. Stop waiting for all the steps to be laid out perfectly in front of you. Don’t let fear prevent you from making decisions. I’ve found that for some leaders, it helps to simply wait for life to give you the next step. Have patience.
7. Remain ‘in the work.’
The most important work is not what you do at your office, your desk or on your computer. I believe the most important work is how you show up for life, for yourself and for the people around you. Being “in the work” is about your rigorous commitment to self-honesty. It is the commitment to being present, letting go of distractions (i.e., turn your phone off), being curious, staying open and being vulnerable. Being in the work means not being afraid to let life occasionally knock you down.
The order of these guidelines is not random. One is a prerequisite for the next. Spend one week focusing on one rule each day, and then repeat that pattern for four weeks. You’ll start to see the bigger picture and expand beyond your current limitations. Or, simply meditate and allow yourself to be shown the great mystery that awaits in the silence.