Q&A: Marita Harold: “Mindfulness helps you think clearly and make complex decisions”

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 29 Jun 2016

Training specialist explains why HR departments should add mindfulness to their wellbeing provision

Marita HaroldRound-the-clock emails, conference calls to international destinations and the pressure to always give 100 per cent mean that work-life balance is hard to achieve. Many organisations incorporate employee wellness programmes into their HR operations, but stressed-out executives need something more to enable them focus while taking their career forward. Training specialist Marita Harold explains how mindfulness training can help with all of this.
How is mindfulness helpful to career professionals? How can it be learned?
From the moment you wake up, you’re bombarded with distractions. Emails clog your inbox, requests pile up, and notifications flicker in the background. Within moments your attention is scattered. Our ability to focus has diminished, but our need to think clearly in order to make complex decisions has not. Mindfulness enables you to clear your mind of clutter, focus on what is important, and manage distractions instead of letting them manage you. This in turn increases productivity.
 
Becoming a mindful leader isn’t easy. There are no five easy steps to do so. You need to make introspectiveness a daily act, combined with high levels of self-awareness and real purpose in your actions. As you do so, you’ll worry less about day-to-day problems and focus on what is most important.
 
Does mindfulness training involve meditation? Are there any techniques that people can practice while at their desk?
Meditation is one form of mind training. It enables you to develop laser-like focus on the important things, develop an inner sense of wellbeing, and gain clarity in making decisions as well as building resilience to deal with difficult times. Meditation comes in many forms. Personally, I swim. It is my means to shed noise and create internal quiet and eliminate chatter, which slows down my mind. Some people run. You need to find what works for you and your schedule. Some people try Tai Chi, which can also help develop the ability to focus.
 
Is there a risk of people losing their competitive edge if they practice mindfulness and become ‘softer’?
Remember mindfulness increases your focus, allowing you to think clearly to make complex decisions. Mindful practices improve your decision-making ability. Google trains 2,000 engineers in meditation each year and it is credited as one of the key reasons behind Google’s innovative and harmonious culture.
 
Does the fact that organisations in the UAE are made up of so many nationalities pose any challenge for teaching mindfulness?
The cultural make up of organisations in the UAE is a distinct advantage for mindfulness and wellness training. There is exposure and acceptance to many mind training techniques used across many cultures. As long as HR departments understand that wellness is not just about physical fitness, incorporating mindfulness should not be too challenging.