No doubt about it: The world is loud, chaotic, and outright scary. And with a pandemic piled on top of political/social/economic upheaval piled on top of “normal” disruptors like AI advancements that change everything about the way we work, it’s only going to get more so. Here’s the question: How do you get heard above the chaos? Do you shout louder? Work harder? Bulldoze over others?
Actually, quite the opposite. Ed Hess says your “secret weapon” to thriving in a world of chaos, change, and uncertainty might surprise you. Inner Peace. “Inner Peace is really a survival skill,” he says. “It’s what allows us to bring our Best Selves to work and engage with others in ways that enable them to be their best selves also.” Here are a few simple steps for achieving inner peace:
Take a good look at how you define yourself
Ego is one of our biggest inhibitors. When we define ourselves by how much we know and how “smart” we are (a common problem for leaders!), or when someone disagrees with us, our very sense of self is threatened. If you want to be open to feedback and are willing to challenge your own perceptions, you must first make a conscious decision to quiet the ego.
Give mindfulness meditation a try
You must develop a quiet mind that is fully present. Mindfulness meditation can help. It’s a way of focusing awareness to something specific like your breath or a part of your body or an object or mantra and continually bringing your attention back to that thing every time your mind wanders off. Hess recommends you start small—perhaps just two to three minutes at first. Eventually you’ll be able to work your way up to 20-30 minutes a day.
Engage in acts of gratitude
This practice reduces your tendency to be self-centered and cultivates a quiet ego. Acts of gratitude may include saying “Thank you” in the moment, writing thank-you notes, keeping a gratitude journal, and every night reflecting back on those who’ve had the biggest positive impacts on your life.
Practice deep breathing to calm your body, emotions and mind
Hess says back in 2018 he started practicing deep breathing exercises that the Navy SEALs do and monitoring his heart rate daily. Now he does breathing exercises a couple of times a day to regulate the pace of his body so he can be more in the moment.
Create micro-joys throughout your workday
Hess is a big fan of Barbara Fredrickson’s writings on the power of positivity resonance, which is the highest level of human connection that results from the sharing of positive emotions. Teams are far more effective when they can attain this elusive state. Obviously, leaders who are mired in negativity will inhibit positivity resonance and thus team performance. This is why it’s crucial to do what you can to keep yourself in a state of joy and happiness—one of the keys to being your best self.
Create your daily intentions
Spending 15 minutes or so each morning reflecting on how you want to behave today—how you want “to be”—can help you start your day with the right mindset. This can involve inspirational readings and journaling.
About the Author:
Edward D. Hess is professor of business administration, Batten Fellow, and Batten Executive-in-Residence at the Darden School of Business and the author of Hyper-Learning: How to Adapt to the Speed of Change. Professor Hess spent 20 years in the business world as a senior executive and has spent the last 18 years in academia. He is the author of 13 books, over 140 articles, and 60 Darden case studies. His work has appeared in over 400 global media outlets including Fortune, European Business Review, HBR, SHRM, Fast Company, WIRED, Forbes, Inc., Huffington Post, Washington Post, Business Week, Financial Times, CNBC Squawk Box, Fox Business News with Maria Bartiroma, Big Think, WSJ Radio, Bloomberg Radio with Kathleen Hays, Dow Jones Radio, MSNBC Radio, Business Insider, and Wharton Radio. His recent books and research have focused on Human Excellence in the Digital Age: A New Way of Being; A New Way of Working; Humanizing the Workplace; and Hyper-Learning.