Leadership Lessons: Taking Care of Non-Business
Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
The Art of Power
by Thich Nhat Hanh
Stopping: How to Be
Still When You Have to Keep Going
by David Kundtz
Quiet Mind: One Minute Retreats from a Busy World
by David Kundtz
The Power of Now
by Eckhart Tolle
"Be present to the life you have to
create the life you want."
“Have you got a few minutes? I have so much to do today that I don’t know where to begin. I’ve had a teacher
conference already this morning, my house is a wreck, the sink is full of dishes and I can’t concentrate at all until I take
care of them. Can you help me sort things out?” This rather frantic plea came early one morning from a very successful
woman whose goal is to make partner in her firm. On this day, she had decided to work from home where she could
focus in on her business development plan and deal with several challenging projects that needed her attention.
Verging on panic, she began to list all she needed to get done this day. Just the tone of her voice made me anxious!
Oops! That was my signal. I was mirroring my client’s emotional state. “Stop and breathe, Annie!” She did both,
quieting down long enough for me to make a suggestion. “Rather than prioritizing your To Do list with me right now, go
wash your dishes. Think only about washing those dishes for the few minutes that takes—no processing, multi-tasking
or worrying. Simply be fully present to washing your dishes. When you are done, walk calmly to your home office to plan
your day and then get to work.”
A week later, Annie reported how this simple suggestion to focus on just one thing at a time seemed to calm her anxiety
thus allowing her to concentrate her attention on what was before her. Right away, she discovered the joy of being fully
present with her little boy when they were together. Annie is noticing when her worry about the future wastes her energy
and time spoiling both the present and the future. She’s learning that when she does her work with mindfulness, focusing on one thing at a time, much of her stress
disappears. Rather than attempting to multi-task, work faster, longer and harder, Annie is finding time to pause, to
breath, to have a cup of tea, and to smile!
So how does mindfulness fit into the world of business, you ask? If you’re focused on living in the present moment how
does anything get done? In a wonderful little book called The Art of Power, Thich Nhat Hanh explains it this way: “Your
well-being, your capacity to smile, rest, and breathe, as well as your capacity to care for the well-being of your family, are
non-business elements, but they are essential for the well-being of business.” The starting point is with ourselves.
“When you take care of yourself, you take care of your family. When you behave responsibly toward your employees, it
benefits your company. Prosperity is not an individual matter. The well-being of our clients, our customers, our
community, and our employees is linked together.”
I watched “Undercover Boss” for the first time the other night. Here was a CEO who, in disguise, worked alongside
employees in entry level jobs in his company. He learned first-hand how hard they worked, and how committed they
were to the well-being of their families as well as to the well-being of the company. Profoundly touched by the struggles of each of the people he met, he was reminded
how non-business elements must be attended to if a business is to do well. Upon his return to his “real job,” this
leader saw to it that existing programs were revved up, and new ones established to provide child-care,
financial aid, scholarships and professional development opportunities to his employees. Attending to
non-business elements is good business…and incredibly gratifying.
“You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and
to be vibrantly alive in repose.” Indira Gandhi
TIPS, TOOLS AND PRACTICES: HOW TO STOP SO YOU CAN KEEP GOING
Stopping is doing nothing, to become more fully awake, and remember who you are. Stopping, as defined by
David Kundtz, is a form of contemporary contemplation designed for people who are looking for a simple,
uncomplicated, non-dogmatic yet effective way to cope with a too-busy life. One of the purposes is to help us
to be in the present moment so that in the moments ahead we will be on the right track. Stopping has three
levels: Stillpoints, Stopovers, and Grinding Halts. All three expressions of Stopping are to help you keep
one thing in mind: all you have is “now,” “then” is gone, and “when” is not yet and may never be.
“Except for the point, the still point, There would be no dance,
and there is only the dance.” T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets
Let’s look more closely at Stillpoints—the expression of Stopping that can be used most often. Creating
Stillpoints during the day is fundamental to the incorporation of Stopping into your life.
is stopping quickly and doing nothing for just a moment. It is brief and meant to be used anytime, all the time and many times a day.
Stillpoints are intentional and chosen for the purpose of doing nothing and of quietude.
Stillpoints are the little times, brief interludes, quick respites, one minute breaks, intermissions and lulls.
are designed to take advantage of the unfilled moments in life: waiting for the microwave to heat your coffee, sitting at a stoplight. They are also used at moments of stress: going into an interview, during a feeling of anger, or when you know you’re going to be late for an appointment.
What you do during a Stillpoint
is simple: you stop doing whatever you are doing, take a deep breath, focus your attention on your breathing, and remember what you need to remember.
Stop…Breathe….Remember The remembering part is flexible---recalling a belief that motivates you or a message you need to
hear like “you can do it” or “you are okay.” You may remember people who are important to you with gratitude.
are life’s little moments of gold that, when taken together, can give brilliance and joy to our day.
From Stopping: How to be Still When You Have to Keep Going by David Kundtz
© 2010 Bette George & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.
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