Mindful Leadership and the World Series

Accountability Transformation Well-being


Key Point: Learn mindfulness. Be intentional about it. Leaders are under more pressure than ever based on the term VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous). Which is now somewhat commonly known. That’s the world we live in. Executive responsibility can almost feel like we’re in a never-ending, “sudden death” World Series championship game. So technical competence is vital for leaders: You have to know your business. What is even more daunting (and/or exhilarating for those of us that thrive in it) is the increased need and capability to become high performing, adaptive leaders. The paradox of extremely effective adaptive leadership is to be able to slow everything down in real time, become highly focused, while having “bat like” radar when surveying the surrounding environment. And the research is clear , mindfulness training is now becoming necessary for leadership effectiveness. Why? Check out this research.

Mindfulness helps leaders to know they’re thinking, when they’re thinking, to know what they’re feeling, and to be aware of what they’re sensing at the time they’re sensing it (all while allowing for empathy). It is not a buzzword or psychobabble. In fact the U.S. Marines and Special Forces are investing in “cognitive control development ” (mindfulness) as imperative preparation for combat, perhaps the ultimate test of effective adaptive leadership decision making.

The following from Yahoo Sports describes the final game of the 2015 World Series… “As the clock passed midnight and Sunday turned into Monday, the game grew even more odd. Already the questionable decision of Mets manager Terry Collins to leave in starter Matt Harvey for a shutout attempt in the ninth inning came back to bite him. After mustering four hits against Harvey over the first eight innings, Lorenzo Cain walked to lead off the ninth and stole second base. Hosmer, who had only two hits all series, smoked a double over left fielder Michael Conforto’s head to score Cain and halve the lead…”

Of course, we know what happened… The Kansas City Royals went on to become champions. If you watched the game, you could see New York Mets manager Collins struggle with his decision to let Harvey, who was almost unhittable until the moment of truth, continue. Who knows what would have happened if he had decided to remove Harvey in spite of the pitchers strong protestations. And who really knows if Collins was totally present and fully mindful in that pressure-cooked situational moment? At the same time, and with the risk of being unfairly judgmental of Collins, you can’t help but wonder if he let the emotional Harvey and the situation overtake him. And yet, we all know that if Harvey had struck him out, Collins would have been celebrated for his gutsy call and loyalty to Harvey. That was not the case. The Mets lost. In retrospect, the situation called for a different decision. 

Character Moves: 

  1. Understand that habitual ways of understanding things produce habitual reactions. In the VUCA world, leaders are being put in situations where adaptive challenges demand that leaders open themselves up to go beyond what is known and understood. Do you know how to do that? Are you aware when you’re in such a situation? It’s like that saying, “What got you here won’t get you there.”
  1. Be very cautious and watch for signals when you’re on autopilot. You might get run over. That applies to organizations as well… Like banks that think customers will continue to give them their money and think the situation is simply demanding better execution on an overplayed business model. 
  1. A growing body of research is showing that mindfulness actually changes the brain, allowing us to be more present, less emotionally reactive, and more purposeful/deliberate. Right now, I’m learning and practicing how to be more mindful. I must get better at this. My team deserves it. How about you? 

More Mindful in the Triangle,


One Millennial View: The phrase “well, hindsight is 20/20” exists, but we all know that’s just a clean up crew of sorts for our own conscience. It’s a way to calm our inner panic when things go awry. “Hindsight is 20/20” sucks, and it never seems to win life’s championships. When things really work out for people, it seems mindfulness is strongly at play. Sometimes it’s chalked up to luck, hard work, right time/right place, but consciously or not someone knew how to get there, what to say, and how to stay. The fact of the matter is life and work is very much a “sudden death” World Series game, in a lot of ways. Fortunately, the game usually lasts a lot longer than nine innings, and we can always have a different pitcher warming up.

– Garrett Rubis

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis