How do top entrepreneurs stay calm and focused while navigating exits, raising funding and running a business? The answer: mindfulness.
I've been experimenting with a few mindfulness practices, and have talked with other entrepreneurs who are experiencing the benefits of mindfulness. Even if you've already tried some mindfulness techniques, these strategies could be helpful to improve your mindset and bring mindfulness to your team.
1. Reduce stress with the same technique U.S. Navy SEALs use.
The practice of controlled breathing is called Pranayama. Often at the heart of yoga practice, pranayama breathing can help you gain a sense of awareness, control and presence in the moment. ?One of the breathing patterns I practice daily is called box breathing. It's the same pattern that U.S. Navy SEALs use to stay calm and aware, and it's easy to fit into a few minutes each day.
Count in four second intervals:
Inhale for four seconds
Hold for four seconds
Exhale for four seconds
Hold for four seconds
Our team does this breathing pattern for at least two minutes every morning. It helps us feel re-energized for the day, reduce stress and gain clarity. Try working this into your routine at the beginning of your day to set the right intention, or during breaks in your day to regain focus and clarity.
2. Improve your quality of sleep with this meditation technique.
Sleep deprivation is one of the most common problems among entrepreneurs. Yoga Nidra is a meditative practice designed to help you enter a state of deep relaxation and conscious awareness.
"My entrepreneurial kryptonite is that I can't shut my brain off. So, sleep is a real problem," says Christopher Day, CEO of DemandJump, who practices Yoga Nidra. "Getting the noise out of my mind, and focusing back on the energy and that one core thing -- that definitely helped."
I've tried this practice myself and I've found some of the Yoga Nidra guided meditations that I've found on YouTube to be extremely helpful and a great place to get started.
3. Design your week for success with effective journaling.
Another tactic our team uses to practice mindfulness is journaling. Every Monday morning we each take 5-10 minutes to envision our week. By creating space for ourselves to reflect, we can be more intentional about how we spend our time. But I'm certainly not the only entrepreneur who's experienced this.
"I realized I was so busy doing the things all the time," says Sarah Adler, CTO and Co-Founder of Spoon University, acquired in 2017 by Scripps Networks. "I was reacting to all the things around me and not actually being purposeful. To be purposeful and creative, you need to create space for yourself."
Start by imagining that it's already Friday afternoon. Ask yourself, "What did you accomplish this week? How did it go, and how do you feel about it?" Reflect and write it down. This helps set the tone for the week and position you for success.
4. Get started with meditation in just five minutes.
Meditation is an obvious mindfulness practice, but it's definitely worth the effort. Even 5 minutes of stillness can help you be present and regain control over your mindset.
Speaker and author Jenny Blake practices meditation daily to stay focused. "If you're a creative person or an entrepreneurial person, it's so easy to fill your brain with other people's ideas," says Blake. "It's so important to take the time we have to breathe and slow down."
The first step to meditation can be as simple as taking five minutes to relax in silence. Turn off any music, podcasts, or audiobooks, and simply close your eyes while sitting still and focus on your breathing.
5. Get your team breathing together.
If you're comfortable with your mindfulness practice, you can bring it to your team. At Powderkeg, we've created a morning routine that we call "Breathfast." It depends on the day, but typically we follow this routine:
Wim Hof breathing session: 30 deep breaths, followed by a very deep breath. Hold for 15 seconds, and exhale slowly.
Pranayama / Navy SEAL breathing: two minutes.
Light discussion around culture or priorities for the day.
It usually takes less than 15 minutes and helps us approach the day with the right intention. Since we've started Breathfast, we've noticed that our team is able to dive back into our work with a clearer and more creative mindset.
Mindfulness techniques such as these can help entrepreneurs find focus and clarity. I hope these practices are helpful to you along your personal journey.