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Is 'Mindfulness' the new black?

It’s fair to say that the popularity of ‘Mindfulness’ has gathered considerable pace in the last couple of years. In fact it’s hard to move these days for Mindfulness articles, guides, books and discussions. 

However, with this rise in popularity comes a danger that some of the fundamentally sound (and ancient) principles and practices of ‘being in the moment’ (either in traditional/formal meditation or by means of an approach/state of mind) become less clear, or diluted in their value. This is something that Oliver Burkeman tackles in a recent article in the Guardian - and is well worth a read.  

Within organisations there is some great work being done to integrate Mindfulness in to wider employee well-being programmes, as well as in day-to-day practices to reduce stress, improve communication and ultimately improve productivity.  There’s also plenty of evidence and articles to suggest that the proliferation of technology and communication places considerable challenges on our ability to ‘focus’ - and this is an issue that’s here to stay - hence why ‘mindful working’ is required.. 

Linked to this is some of the ground-breaking research that’s being done to understand Mindfulness in tangible business terms.  Of note is the amazing work by Cranfield University, which recently hosted the sell-out ‘Mindfulness at Work Conference’ in 2014. Here’s hoping they run another one in 2016.

If you can find your way through all the bells and whistles, it’s still a subject and ‘approach’ that merits our time and energy either to explore for yourself or your organisation - just don’t believe all the hype!

The Apprentice

Some of you will have caught a glimpse of The Apprentice on television. The show where “future tycoons” compete for Alan’s heart.

For me the title is the most misrepresentative item of the show. An apprentice at least hints at the willingness to learn and grow into a role or organisation. The competitors display an arrogance and boast knowledge and skills that suggests they know everything about business that there is to offer.

I know the show is highly edited and we don’t get a glimpse of the learning that occurs from week to week, but there is something about certain contestants’ lack of self awareness that amazes me. They were clearly chosen for TV rather than future leadership prospects.

In this show displaying weakness is an open door to be mob-attacked and outed by the other team members. Clever leaders have a support network of mentors, colleagues, friends and family who they can trust and who will provide support and feedback. I hope some of the contestants at least have this outlet of help between the emotional beating they take every week.

That said I can’t stop watching it it. It’s entertaining, provides excellent material for training, and is a talking point in offices across the nation every Thursday morning!


Social networking and learning?

Over the past year or two the social networking phenomena has built at an incredible pace. Some businesses are beginning to see its potential whilst others see it as another way for lazy employees to avoid getting down to real work. What most commentators seem to agree on is that the ‘young’ are the real masters of social networking and will be the ones who bring it fully into the mainstream as they enter work.
I came across this article the other day that gives an insight to how social networking is entering the mainstream of business life. It will be interesting to see how it starts to impact on learning.


In the "real world"

Last week I had the opportunity to head out to the “real world” with a client. I am in the process of designing a programme which combines both technical and behavioural learning and it was really important for me to gain awareness of the environment delegates work in and people they will be working with. The day was fantastic and at one point I was stood in mud, in wellies, hard hat and high-vis jacket!!

I think it is really important when designing any training to go and find out what actually happens for someone at work. Even though it was only one day I was able to pick-up some knowledge that will help me tailor the design and facilitation of the program.

For anyone heading out to the “real world”, remember your questioning and listening skills. I found people responded best to simple down-to-earth questions, rather than the pre-written convoluted ones that make the other person feel like they are just part of a survey.



JCA Quicktype seminar

Most of us work with Psychological Type regularly, through the MBTI.

JCA are developing a new Type tool and method and are running a short free seminar on it next week. They are focusing on how to translate Type results into personal change, and will introduce their materials and show the product in practice.

It sounds as if it could be interesting to go along and find out more about how it might fit with our programmes and with their other tools such as ie+ (which I wrote about recently).

The seminar is on Thursday 7 Feb from 17:00 - 18:30 followed by drinks, at the JCA offices in Cheltenham. For more info contact Claire Bott at JCA on , or have a look at their website