In business, the benefits of mindful practices include greater self-confidence, better emotional intelligence, and stronger resiliency. All these are attributes that make mindfulness work in business and leadership. Millennials are gravitating toward mindfulness to enhance their work-life balance and develop their leadership capabilities.
A risk lurks, however. Mindfulness contains a threat of inaction. We hear about how mindfulness is being present. The art of noticing is essential. If what is noticed and absorbed is not converted into key actions, the moment is wasted. Absorbing the present moments is vital. Equally essential is what happens next.
A Mindful Millennial Difference: Converting
Converting well is a real difference-maker in what type of leader you will be. Change happens in a snap. One day you are on solid footing and the next day your footing disappeared because of a layoff, buy-out, or market shift in a completely different direction. Our environment is intense and complex so we must stay attuned and advance in purposeful, growth-oriented ways. Being status quo in an ever-changing environment means failure as a leader.
In nature, photosynthesis means “putting together with light.” It is an absorb and convert model. With the Millennial adaptive tendency, they will make formidable leaders, especially with an enduring focus on converting.
The Absorb-Convert-Act Model
Let’s tap into this Absorb-Convert-Act model.
Absorb to Learn.
We are, essentially, information sponges. Millennials’ quicksilver minds, plus your Wiki- digital technology, afford you the ability to ingest massive amounts of information at unprecedented volumes. An essential ability of leaders is to absorb large amounts of information in a relatively quick way.
Notice how you take in information. You think. You evaluate. You think some more. A turn happens inside you, moving from your mind toward your heart or inner spirit. When this happens, there is a call to grow your leadership point-of-view along with how to potentially change your approach to solving a problem or adopting a different business model to address shifts in the market.
Highlighted below is a way to discern what you absorb.
- From the information you took in, identify the big ideas, trends, or thoughts from it.
- From the big ideas, trends, and thoughts, what filters through as the salient points to consider? Write them down.
- From the points to consider, pinpoint the key action to move forward. Not everything will be actionable. At times, the filtered points may just remain as watch points. More information may be required to support an action so just set it as a point to watch. The Action Point may simply be to watch this big idea, trend, or thought.
Meet the challenges:
- Balance diverse sources of information: Know when enough information is enough. Checkpoint: When articles from different sources begin to sound the same, you may have reached a tipping point. Don’t get stuck in over-absorption.
- Create time to read and think. Checkpoint: Do you have a blocked, protected time to read and think? If not, carve out at least one hour per day and safeguard that time.
- Identify what “stuck” with you. The salient points remain in your thoughts for several hours or days after reading or engaging in a conversation. Checkpoint: Write these filtered points down.
Now let’s move forward with the key step of converting what we have absorbed.
Convert to Relevant Next Steps.
Absorbing information without taking action is storing it. Unless you are saving the stored data for some future reason, do something with everything you absorb. Convert information and insights into action. Take your identified Action Point and convert it into a productive, meaningful pursuit or change. Doing this will move you and your team forward.
Information converted into actionable steps can include:
- Written analysis
- Metrics to track
- New habits adopted
- Plans and activities to work and implement
Converting absorbed information into ways to grow, change, and thrive is what will empower you to be a stronger leader and develop better solutions.
Take what you pinpointed as the key action points and then do the following:
- Identify key steps to take. Answer: What select actions will address the change? Define them.
- Given the specified actions, if achieved, describe what the outcome will likely be. Create the picture of what the new result will be, so others will visualize why the change is necessary or recognize how you have changed in a positive way over time. Creating the resulting visual will incite others to become Champions in their engagement.
Meet the challenges:
- Getting stuck in over-analysis or over planning? Checkpoint: What have you learned by doing something with the information converted? If the answer is “nothing yet,” then it is time to act—get out of your head and into your hands.
- Don’t skip absorption before taking action. This could be described as “half-cocked,” meaning the next steps are random and scattered. Don’t let confusion be the result of your leadership. Checkpoint: Have you clearly identified the lessons learned or actions to take from the information absorbed? Have you documented the trends and do you understand their potential impact? If you cannot point to them in writing, stop and get clear of your next step or plan.
- Acting for just the sake of acting (when work is not based on a meaningful plan): Checkpoint: Given your expected result, what actions will move you and others closer to it? Understand the requirements for completing the next step. If the picture of what achievement looks like is murky, stop and gain clarity.
From here, pursue what you identified as a new, better result.
Act to Achieve Results.
After you convert information into expected results, act! Action is the movement of ideas into the world: changing, solving, doing.
Action is a requirement for being an effective leader. You influence others to do their part (and more). Taking action is about coherent and transparent pace, engagement, collaboration, and leadership.
Taking the model to the third step, define the players and timelines – who needs to collaborate and when work needs to completed. Doing this will catalyze your steps into forward motion.
Meet the challenges:
- Getting disengaged or ineffective individuals as collaborators. Checkpoint: Do you have the right people engaged? Do the collaborators have the right skill sets, or do they require added training? Are they engaged at the Champion level? If not, what changes can you make to raise their engagement levels?
- Acting to look or feel busy. Checkpoint: Busyness should never be a leadership or team metric. At the end of each day, write down the three relevant and significant items you and your collaborators accomplished. If fewer than two or three, write down what you should do the next day differently.
Now it is time to put it all together. For the model to be effective, it needs to be a closed loop, meaning all three steps – Absorb, Convert, Act – are completed. Absorb-Convert-Act will be the mindful Millennial leadership advantage.
How do you bring together mindfulness with achieving results? What practices work for you?
Absorb-Convert-Act graphics, All Rights Reserved, © Jon Mertz, Concept included in Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders