There’s no shortage of evidence that mindfulness has real benefits in helping individuals stay present and deal with stress. Unsurprisingly, this has earned it a real following amongst time-poor entrepreneurs.
Michael Acton Smith, founder of Mind Candy and author of the mindfulness book Calm, is no stranger to the benefits mindfulness can bring; his own experiences with chronic stress last year led him to discover mindfulness, something he feels could benefit a huge swathe of the population. Speaking at today’s Mindfulness Summit, he said: “Excessive stress is one of the most important issues in modern society; it’s time to hit the pause button, stop and think.” But Smith was eager to dispel some of the myths around meditation and mindfulness; he drew comparisons to physical exercise, explaining it as a process of honing one’s focus. “[It’s not] just about calming down and being quiet,” he explained. “What you’re actually doing is training your attention.”
Boosting your focus and fighting stress seems to only be part of the picture however; mindfulness can also support collaborative innovation. “That level of connectedness that you get when you are in a place of calm […] enables a team of entrepreneurs to do something that we call combinatorial innovation,” said Peter Read, general partner at Google Ventures. “That’s where the real magic happens.” Because of this, founders who practice mindfulness together might be able to innovate and iterate on a much more fundamental level. “They need to connect on this deep level […] to actually build things that are truly innovative,” said Jade Read, programme director at Entrepreneur First, the seed investment fund.
Lastly, the panel – moderated by our very own Hannah Prevett – brought plenty of other insights on how mindfulness has revolutionised many professionals’ work and personal lives. “For me, [mindfulness is] very much about decluttering and paying attention to relationships within business,” explained Alex Rickard, HR consultant for the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. And, whilst it won’t completely remove stressful situations at work, mindfulness practice can help entrepreneurs respond to them in a better way. “[It has] put me in a much better place to be effective at work,” explained Nic Brisbourne, managing partner at Forward Partners. “It’s not [always] an ocean of calm but, when the waves come, it’s better and I’m less prone to reacting too quickly.”
All in all, the Mindfulness Summit gave some great insight into the benefits of mindfulness for business; as Smith explained it really seems like the movement is reaching critical mass. “It’s as if a mindful revolution is going on,” he said. “I find it very exciting.