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This year, SIYLI sponsored and participated in the Mindful Leadership Summit, one of the largest gatherings devoted to advancing mindfulness and compassion in the workplace. The event took place in Washington D.C. on November 3-4 and included a distinguished roster of renowned meditation teachers, authors, scientists, business leaders, and representatives from nonprofits and government institutions.

Aside from the opportunity to share SIYLI’s work, this annual gathering was an opportunity for us to connect with a community working toward a common mission—cultivating self-awareness and compassion, teaching emotional intelligence skills and leading with authenticity in order to transform personal lives, organizations, communities and the world.

After two days of inspirational conversations, we returned to the office with these five takeaways from the 2018 Mindful Leadership Summit:

1.Anyone can be a mindful leader.

The concept of leadership doesn’t have to be limited to people in a position of authority. Everyone has the opportunity to lead, whether it’s in their communities, families, jobs or stakeholders. Mindfulness can even play a role in the way we lead ourselves.

2.Internal champions make a difference.

To establish or grow mindfulness programs, most organizations have internal champions who develop tests, pilots and trials. Deutsche Telekom’s Daniel Vonier and Gesa Hauser, along with SAP’s Peter Bostelmann presented two concrete examples of the value of internal champions to scale mindfulness programs inside global organizations. SIYLI’s Peter Weng stated during his session about scaling mindfulness programs globally: “I don’t think I’ve seen a successful mindfulness program in an organization without an internal mindfulness champion. Their role is crucial.”

Bill George, senior fellow and former CEO, Harvard Business School and Medtronic, presented the attributes of a mindful leader

3.Being aware of your purpose matters.

Being mindful can make leaders more aware of their own preferences, interests and passions. Aligning with a higher purpose increases their sense of meaning and belonging and can inspire others in a more authentic way.  According to Emiliya Zhivotovskaya from The Flourishing Center, “We are matter that yearns to matter.” So choosing to make every moment more meaningful in a mindful manner can go a long way.

4.Building mindful habits is simple, but not always easy.

Creating a habit of any sort is difficult because at our most basic level, humans are wired to focus on survival, not happiness. We have negativity biases, prefer the known (versus the unknown) and have difficulty making lasting changes. Once we create a habit and integrate it into our routines, however, brain plasticity kicks in and we can more easily stick to a plan.

5.Mindful leaders’ behaviors speak loudly in an organization.

Developing and scaling mindfulness programs can come from the top or bottom of an organization. From the top, one of the of the most important aspects is how leaders exemplify the behavior they want to see in their teams. Mindful leaders are role models 24/7.