A few easy ways to create a mindful approach to your relationships, your sales, and your life
Collin Stewart, CEO
16 July 2018
The following is a guest post by Mike Fiascone, Sr. Director, Sales Productivity at DocuSign.
Embarking on a mission of mindfulness, self love, self improvement – whatever you want to call it – can be a daunting project. Especially in the early days. Knowing where to start, who to turn to for guidance, and how to stay committed are questions that, if left unanswered, can derail the most positive plans.
The trouble is, somewhere along the line, you’ve gotten a taste of how good life can be. You’ve had a look at the clarity, the simple and pure joy, that’s out there. And you want it to be the way you live your life, not some fleeting moment, always just out of your grasp.
So, then, how do we start? Where do we begin? How do we stay on track?
Working on your own happiness is, in many respects, an intensely personal journey. Each of us charts it in our own way, according to our own unique conditions. But although we are working to improve ourselves, it’s the support of a community that helps us succeed. In fact, part of the journey is working with others who are on a similar path. We are a tribal society and we need the power of the group to help make us stronger. One twig is easy to break, but 100 twigs bound together creates a strong branch.
Supportive communities can take many forms – a sports team, a yoga class, even your colleagues at work. But when taking the first steps toward living a more intentional life, joining a book club is a terrific way of finding a supportive group that can help continually inspire this work. It helped me.
Of course, a book club isn’t just a way to meet like-minded individuals, it’s also the perfect forum to read books that will help shift your perspective. I recommend reading Gay Hendricks’ The Big Leap, and Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements to get started. Both of these books had a profound effect on me, and continue to yield new insights each time I pick them up.
Take The Four Agreements, for instance. The book is built on four simple principles:
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don’t take things personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- And always do your best
It’s easy, at least on paper, to see how applying these lessons would make help inspire a more positive life – you’d be more honest, you’d get hurt less, you’d worry less about others, and your actions would have a greater, more positive, impact.
Now, let’s apply these lessons to sales. If you always did exactly what you said you would do, weren’t affected by the inevitable ebbs of flows of the job, didn’t project your feelings on a deal until it was resolved, and always gave everything you had – how great would your job be? How many clients would you impress? How many quotas would you crush?
That’s the beauty of the simple lessons from a book like The Four Agreements, or any other book you find inspirational for that matter. The ways and means outlined aren’t just a roadmap to either happiness at home, or success at the office. This isn’t a template for either personal satisfaction, or professional excellence. It’s both. Because it’s all part of life.
We spend a lot of time compartmentalizing all of the different aspects that make up our existence – family, friends, work, money, fun, passion, health, the list goes on. But plucking each aspect out, as if they each live in their own distinct silo, is counterintuitive. The concept of work-life balance is a cultural spell and it is time we let it go. We spend time on many different things throughout the week, but it’s all part of one life.
That’s why when we take our first steps towards a more mindful existence, what we’re after is happiness in everything we do. We want to be balanced in life, not a simple prescription for one specific part.
What we’re really working towards, what we’re hoping to achieve, is a break in the programming we all fall victim to. Programming from parents, family, culture, religion, you name it – we internalize lessons from our surroundings, they turn into beliefs, which drive our actions and habits. They become the basis for how we react to life. All beliefs are learned, and just because we learn something, it doesn’t mean it’s true. We all have programmed beliefs that are no longer serving us. They are preventing us from being authentically happy in life.
But how can we be happy? How can we react to life with love and compassion rather than fear and anger? There are two incredibly powerful tools that I have found that anyone can use regularly and consciously to help build new programming. They are awareness and breath.
When you are aware of your negative thoughts and feelings, and you breathe through them with love and compassion, and then feed your brain with positive thoughts and feelings, and you do this regularly, things start to shift. You will immediately feel better in that moment, which is great. However, with practice over time, you will notice how this shift stays with you and affects how you react to all aspects of life. Those annoying triggers start to get fewer and farther in-between. You become more of who you really are, you have more energy, creativity, and confidence. Taking time throughout the day to have a few quick self-awareness check-points is a small but important step in your pursuit of happiness.
For instance, I sit down in the morning for a period of quiet reflection before I have to get ready, jump into emails, and take on the events of the day. I take a few moments to check in with myself, see how I am feeling, give myself a healthy dose of self-love, and express gratitude for the blessings in my life. Then I visualize what my day is going to look like, complete with all of the outcomes that I would choose. I picture the day that I desire, and I pay attention to how it makes me feel while I am taking a deep breath through my nose and out through my mouth.
This daily ritual only takes about 15 minutes, it’s super easy, and is incredibly powerful. My 12-year-old son does it on his way to school every day. He’s been doing this since he was 4 and now he’s just wired this way.
Over time, you will crave these morning moments and they will get longer and longer. If you wake up just 30 minutes earlier, you can add in some journal time. Just dump all your thoughts on paper and purge the stuff that’s bouncing around your head and taking up space. You don’t even have to read it when you are done – just dump it out so you can make room for new thoughts, ones that you would choose vs ones that are old and outdated.
It’s a deceptively simple practice, but it can have a profound effect. Now, after years of this routine, I immediately notice when I miss it. My day is more hectic, and I’m more prone to emotional triggers and reactive patterns.
But that’s part of the process. You have to be aware of what you’re doing, to know when you need a change. And when you stumble, forgive yourself and thank yourself for doing your best. There’s no immediate mastery here. Just get up and try again. Have an accountability partner to help you stick to the program. Pick up another book and discuss it with your community. This is a long game. But it’s worth it. Treat it like a game and have fun with it. Be like the Nike slogan and “Just Do It.” It will improve your relationships. It will improve your career. It will improve your life.
Editor’s note: for those of you who didn’t catch our conversation with Mike on The Predictable Revenue Podcast, you can listen here.