You may have heard that mindfulness meditation is an undervalued self-development practice. For busy entrepreneurs, it can become a useful way to manage work issues like skyrocketing stress levels, constant burnout, and a foggy mind that can't always be trusted to make the best decisions.
But who has time during the day to and meditate, right?
One way is to use mindfulness meditation apps. I'll admit: I often use them to give my brain the breaks it needs so I can be fresh when coming up with ideas or solving problems in my business. I like that I can set the time on the app for as little as three minutes, if that is all the time I have to be still and meditate.
The apps offer guided meditation and mindfulness exercises that last from a few up to 30 minutes. Some also have specialized programs to help with issues like sleep, stress eating, and relationships.
For many business people, meditation apps may help them feel calmer and more focused. Bill Gates, for example, is a fan of meditation and meditation apps. One study by Headspace (an admittedly biased source) and Stanford University (probably a less-biased source) had 39 people do 10 sessions on a mindfulness app for about 100 total minutes. Afterwards, the subjects reported having more positive emotions and feeling less irritability.
Recently, I spoke to the founders of two popular mindfulness apps, Headspace co-founders Andy Puddicombe (a former Buddhist monk) and Rich Pierson, and Buddhify founder Rohan Gunatillake. I was interested to know, as entrepreneurs themselves, how they incorporate mindfulness into their own businesses. Here are four lessons that stood out:
1. Make your values your "True North."
Many entrepreneurs launch businesses built around sets of values. Those values become difficult to maintain as the company grows. They get pushed aside when opportunities (and ego) inevitably occur.
Gunatillake says his mindfulness practice helps him stay focused on his original intentions. "You should always be clear about your motivations," he says. "We often say, 'I'm doing something for this reason,' but actually you're not making decisions based on that. This is why you should always live your values beyond just writing them on the wall, so to speak, so they truly run through everything you do."
I have found this to be true myself in my own businesses. It's important to take the time to define your own personal purpose and values in why you do what you do. This serves as my guiding light and I map every business decisions I make back to these core values and test whether the decision is aligned or not.
2. Be open to feedback.
Pierson says mindfulness helps him better interact with his employees. For example, his meditation practice helps him slow down and remind himself to be fully present and engaged during team meetings. It also helps him be more open to taking in feedback without his ego getting in the way. "I am able to take in feedback from my team and learn about the different ideas people have," he says. "It's a simple thing, but it lets me have greater connection with my people." He also does this by not having tech in the meeting that may distract him, such as his phone.
3. Know the tradeoffs.
Everyone's idea of success is different. No matter your ultimate business goal, be honest about what it will take and what you might have to give up to achieve it.
Gunatillake notes that the business world's obsession with growth often ignores the potential downsides. "Want to build a billion-dollar business? Is it even possible with no negative consequences?" he asks. "There are always tradeoffs. What is good for investors may not be in the service of your customers and vice versa."
Always be mindful about how you define success and what is your endgame. For me, I realized that my yoga studio was more of a purpose-driven business than a wealth engine. As long as it covers its costs and continues to bring wellness to our customers, it serves its purpose.
4. Practice what you preach.
Pierson and Puddicombe agree that one of the best ways to spread more mindfulness in your business is to be a strong advocate. "Sharing what works for you is seen as authentic for the people around you," says Puddicombe. "Don't simply tell people about a something that could help them. Show them."
Says Pierson: "Simply say, 'I'm doing this. This is the benefit I've had, and I would love to offer it to you.' It gives people permission to try." Your specific approach to mindfulness may not work for everyone. However, by sharing your experiences, you can help others find their own path toward mindfulness.