Humans Are Tricky

I recently had the chance to participate in a weeklong nonprofit leadership course at Duke University. The Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership offers experienced nonprofit professionals the opportunity to increase their capacity for effective entrepreneurial leadership through theoretical studies and executive skills training.

Twenty-four people from around the world, including Kuwait, El Salvador and Bermuda gathered to learn about how to be better leaders for their organization and their community. On our second day of class, I was pleasantly surprised that there were two hours dedicated to Mindfulness.  Others were a bit skeptical; when asked what came to mind when they heard the word mindfulness, classmates said things like; run away, not for me, too "woo-woo," scary, and hard.

But then the instructor said: Humans are tricky. Since everyone was in full agreement on that statement, they were willing to take a risk to see what this mindfulness stuff was all about.

The session was led by Robyn Fehrman from Mindful Type A Wellness & Leadership.  Robyn is a self-proclaimed recovering perfectionist and a classic Type A. She is a former nonprofit executive, social entrepreneur and mom of young children and has personally experienced the benefits of mindfulness. Robyn's goal is to help high-impact (and often high strung!) leaders, teams, and organizations find more focus, resilience, and joy as they pursue transformational results.

As a leader do you ever struggle to make conscious choices, do you react, have a hard time focusing or have an interest in developing stronger relationships? If so, then check out these benefits of meditation:

  1. Reduces the negative impact of stress
  2. Boosts memory
  3. Increases focus
  4. Lessens emotions reactivity
  5. Increases cognitive flexibility
  6. Strengthens relationships

Often, we dedicate a lot of time and energy to making our bodies strong through exercise but not as much time to making our minds strong. The following quote reminded us of the power of our mind:
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Robyn also gave tips for how to incorporate mindfulness at work:

  1. Set an intention (for the day, before a 1:1 or before a hard meeting)
  2. Be purposeful about pauses and give space to others
  3. Be aware of your breath during meetings
  4. Single task and practice doing one thing at a time

At the end of the week, our classmates decided to stay in touch through a Facebook group and one of the very first posts was about mindfulness. A fellow student shared: “I am personally committing to practicing mindfulness. I am using an app called Headspace. There is a free aspect and a fee service. I am using the free app. I am asking you to be my accountability. Anyone want to join?”

I’m on day 12 of consistent Headspace. The goal is to simply cultivate our ability to really notice what's happening inside and around us.  When we notice, we can create the mental and emotional space to make more conscious and intentional choices in our personal and professional lives. Do you want to join me?

To learn more about Robyn Fehrman you can visit her website at:

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