When I was first asked to talk at New Hope Media's Natural Products Expo East about Mindfulness In Business: How to Lead for Healthy People and Planet, I was both honored and confronted – honored by an invitation from an industry that has been on the vanguard for responsible business and confronted about how the climate impact of a trip across the country was of justifiable benefit. Then as the tone of the 2016 U.S. Presidential race devolved, along with other global indicators, I realized just how important it is to use every opportunity to inspire an awakening to the importance of mindfulness. I believe that our access to the possibility of global sustainability and collective wellbeing begins with and depends on mindfulness. And here’s why…
We know that healthy people depend on a healthy planet first and foremost. Yet somewhere along our journey, the majority of us - we human beings - have forgotten. In social ecology and sustainable development, we talk about nested interdependencies to illustrate this natural reality of mutuality. In simplest terms, economic vitality depends on (nests within) social stability that provides for reliable exchange, and social wellbeing depends on (nests within) an environment that provides sustenance to meet basic human needs. For the environment to support healthy people to participate in a healthy economy, the environment must be healthy.
In any industry, wise leadership is conscious of this interdependence among economic, environmental and social realms. The long view of restorative leadership takes that interconnected reality into account with its 21st century SWOT. The big T of the 21st century SWOT is concern about sustaining life as we face indicators like the threat multiplier of climate change, and the big O is the sustainability imperative. There is opportunity like never before for business to be a force for good by serving real and relevant needs.
As I study and listen to the words and voices of great leadership across business, development, ecology and spirit, I hear that above all else, the existential crisis we face with the sustainability imperative comes down to disconnect – a fundamental disconnect with ourselves in the world and of the world.
There are certain qualities of being human that translate to life-sustaining influence, the kind of influence that is of highest benefit. Perhaps most significant is mindfulness, that rare human ability to see oneself in relation to all else, and to be aware of our presence in time and space, and of time itself. Healthy people and healthy planet begin with the interconnected awareness of mindfulness, and it is because of this that mindfulness is at the heart of restorative leadership.
Mindfulness originates with the idea of bhavana, the Sanskrit word "to cultivate." Mindfulness is about cultivating awareness as the condition to be our best selves and to do our best work through consciousness engagement. The etymology of mindfulness tells us that fundamentally it is about remembering to take thought or care, that quality of attending to intention or purpose. Because mindfulness enables us to see ourselves in context and witness ourselves in relation to circumstances, we can bring attention to our intention and choose aligned and positive momentum.
In this fierce urgency of now, we are given the most profound opportunity to get that our choices matter. Our leadership matters. Each of us is positioned in this miraculous web of life to have an impact that no one else can have. Not even Martin Luther King, Jr., who wrote about the fierce urgency of now, can have the impact that each of us is uniquely positioned to have. We have the creative capacity to transform our world moment by moment, and activating that power as an expression of our leadership begins with mindfulness.
Please join me, together with Seleyn DeYarus who is a longstanding voice for values-based leadership in the natural products industry, as we activate our restorative leadership in service to a thriving balance of life at Mindfulness In Business: How to Lead for Healthy People and Planet.