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Mindful leadership

Scott Downes
Feb 17, 2021
Butter Pecan
Chocolate Chip
Rocky Road


Last night, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak at a truly wonderful event. The event was called Catalyst, and it's the annual fundraiser for the Center for Mindful Living in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

I've served on the board for the Center for Mindful Living for the last three years so I'm certainly a bit biased, but I continue to be amazed and inspired by the work that they do. Their purpose is to bring mindfulness meditation practices to the places where it can truly make a difference. A lot of their focus for the last few years has been on education. The Center sponsors a program called PAUSE that brings a trainer into grade school classrooms to help teachers and students see the benefit of meditation practice in their daily lives.

The other area where the Center has had a strong presence is in health care. While there are many use cases where meditation provides a real and measurable benefit for patients, there's one that really stands out to me — pain management. As a society, we've unleashed a flood of problems by introducing stronger opioids, but we often seem to be missing the key that unlocks peace for patients suffering from chronic pain. But no one would ask me to speak on those issues :)

Mindfulness in the business world

My area of expertise is business, and that's probably third on the priority list for the Center at this point in its evolution. But what a promising and interesting area it is! My speech was on my own experience of burnout and how we can bring a mindfulness meditation practice to bear against the challenges we face as leaders in the startup community.

My own personal story and meditation practice have led to a deeper understanding of my own needs as well as my own limitations. It also led to a desire to build stronger, healthier teams and companies, as well as helping out others who are trying to do the same in their own lives.

I describe this as Mindful Leadership, and I think it's a very rich vein to explore. As leaders, we face a flood of daily decisions that have a lasting impact on the lives of our co-workers and our teams. It only seems right that we should attend to the consequences of those decisions in a mindful way. So much of the philosophy of mindfulness is a natural fit when you expand the boundaries of self and think about how we act and live as a community, a team, a company.

So don't be too surprised if you hear a lot more from me on this subject...

Small moments

One of the most rewarding parts of the experience for me was when an attendee came up afterwards to offer me a bit of advice. She said, "hey you should really be a coach!" Don't you love those little moments in life that tell you you're following the right path?

Scott Downes

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