I joined the Mindful Leader Program because mindfulness is really becoming a lifestyle not only in individual practice but also incorporated into organizational culture. Mindfulness is making its place both at home and at work. The train of Mindfulness is going, and I wanted to get on board.

Coming to the end of the piloted program, I am very glad I joined because the complexity of mindfulness combined with the longevity of program and different topics we addressed were transformational in my thinking and how I now approach the world. The Mindful Leader Program is structured in cohort discussions about the series of speakers who come in and talk about different forms of mindfulness. What is cool about mindfulness is that it is not a definite singular thing, it is interdisciplinary. Most associate mindfulness with meditation and Buddhism, and sure that is the historical root of it, however, there is much more to it than that-which our speaker series has addressed.

Every one of these speakers is an expert in their field (which we can see is quite the variety in offerings too) so it was refreshing to learn from new and different perspectives on the topic of mindfulness. Here are my top three speakers, in no particular order:

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT with Professor Ashley Harrell
I had always seen Professor Harrell in passing in the shared Org. Studies/BLI office space, so I was glad to finally hear her expertise in engaged leadership. I appreciated this talk as Professor Harrell walked through the five practices of Exemplary Leadership: 1. Modeling, 2. Inspiring a Shared Vision, 3. Challenge the Process, 4. Enable Others to Act, and 5. Encourage the Heart. All of these methods are so essential all throughout leadership, in which leadership can be practiced in everyday life as well. The one thing that really stuck with me is that “caring is at the heart of leadership”. It is so important to remember the people who you lead, who you serve, are humans too.

I really gained a great deal out of this one. Zilka Joseph is easy to engage with and listen to, as conversations with her are like a story you want to lean-in and make sure you get every single detail. This workshop debunked my conception of poetry. I assumed that poetry was exclusively rhymed words that were to follow a specific format. After this workshop, I realized that anything can be inspiring for poetry, it is as simple as finding a topic to talk about, such as the flavors of the food just ate or the dining room table in your childhood home. These could seem to be very random and unexciting topics, they can spark further meaning for you. Now being more mindful in my everyday life, I turn the small engagements that I have with myself, others, and the environment and make it into a poem. I am writing poems left and right now!

NEGOTIATION AND LEADERSHIP with Professor Stephen Garcia
I was interested to see what this one was about because negotiation was an interaction that always intimidated me. It was something that I always wanted to avoid, in the formal business exchanges. However, I learned that negotiation happens in our every day decision-making. Negotiation does not also have to be a “you v. me” mentality, it is really considering what the parties are asking for and compromising so that both are winning. This has put a more positive light of negotiation in my eyes.

The other speakers throughout the duration of this course also contributed greatly to my better understanding of mindfulness and different practices that I can apply in my personal and professional life. Now coming to the end of the Mindful Leader Program, this is not end of my mindfulness journey, it is just the beginning.