As the sun set, it left a beautiful pastel masterpiece on the canvas of mountains, forest, and sky in front of me.
I found myself drawn into its beauty, emptying myself of all of my cares, worries, and fears that pile on throughout the day. I was fully present in the moment, a rare state of mindfulness as I simply existed, breathed, and watched as the colors changed before my eyes.
There were sounds of coyotes howling in the distance. Lightning bugs were beginning to take flight and glow as the light dimmed. This picturesque evening on the front porch of our house in Western North Carolina was surreal.
The playful sounds of my 10 year old son and a couple of his neighborhood friends grabbed my attention as they came around the corner of the house. As his friends began walking home for the night, my son started his trek up the driveway toward the house where I was sitting. His eyes connected with mine as if to sense whether I would return an inviting look back. I did. He asked if he could sit with me on my lap, which just completely melted me. After all, its been quite some time since he last sat with me to just receive love, hugs and have a chat. It was perfect timing, as my state of mindfulness in that moment would open me up to fully engage and be 100% available for him, even if it was just in the form of love and embrace.
We talked. I asked him a big question. ”What is your favorite thing about life right now?” After a minute of thinking about it, he said he couldn’t come up with anything. He said he was scared, and as I held him close, I asked him to tell me what scared him. He opened up to me about his biggest fears, the nightmares that he’s been having, the reasons he finds life difficult. I wept inside, but at the same time I was full of joy. The joy stemmed out of this realization that we can live life together. We can connect in real ways as father and son. All it takes is a concerted effort on my part to be mindful and present in the moment. The opportunity to work with him through his fears would not exist if it had not been for an intentional heart to heart conversation.
Harnessing the Power of Mindfulness in Our Lives
As I reflected on those 30 minutes with my son last night, I was reminded that the truth discovered here, applies to all of our relationships in life, including those within our TRIBES. How can we be fully present and mindful when it comes to the people participating in our businesses, communities, and movements? Here are a few steps that I extracted out of last night’s experience:
1. Take time to empty your mind
Dump all of the negative energy surrounding worries about the past, fears about the future, and zone in on the present and what is going on around you right now.
2. Setup reminders to do Step 1 throughout the day
My friend Jonathan Mead turned me onto an app called Lotus Bud. It sets up random interval reminders in the form of a chime on your iOS or Android device. It’s purposefully random so that you are not expecting it. When the random chime sounds, it’s an opportunity to check in with yourself for a brief meditation to bring yourself back to a state of clarity and mindfulness.
3. Stop and Reflect on the Beauty
You have started something beautiful. It might not be exactly what you hoped and dreamed about (yet!), but every sunset has various phases throughout the transition. This is a journey that you must enjoy for the experience. The TRIBE that you were meant to build, is one that makes you fully alive. Immerse yourself in its beauty… soak it in and allow it to fuel you. When you can set aside the worries of the past, the fears of the future, and be present in the moment, you will find yourself in a place of gratitude for the progress you’ve made so far, and for the people you’ve attracted into the TRIBE and your life. This is a magical place.
3. Be Open to Interruptions
If you’ve ever been through time management training like I went through in the corporate world, you probably came out with some damage and scarring in this area. People are in our lives for a reason, and when we consistently tune them out, block them out, and avoid them, we are moving away from our entire purpose. Relationships are more important than productivity, and the relationships within our TRIBE are synonymous with productivity. If all you do is push widgets, then great, go the 4-hour work week route and put the automated, robotic response systems in place. If you are building a real movement that has the impact and ability to educate, transform, and connect people, handle communications yourself, and relish the opportunity to be interrupted!
4. Engage in Tribal Conversation
There have been a number of internet businesses and brands outsource their comment moderation on their blogs, social profiles, email, etc. Did you know one of the top marketers in the world, Seth Godin, handles his own email response and conversation within his TRIBE? Even if you can’t personally respond to everything, find ways to steer people toward the places where meaningful conversation is taking place and personally engage in that place (like a specific blog post comment thread or a social network thread).
The key to mindful conversation is listening, and then personally engaging. Be open to what your TRIBE members are saying without judgment, prejudice or preconceived ideas of what you think they need.
Listen first. Take some time to process and sit with what you just heard. Lastly, respond meaningfully from your heart. Keep in mind, length of response has nothing to do with intentionality or meaning. You can be very intentional and meaningful with a brief response.
5. Invite Your TRIBE Into the Higher Vision
Just as this moment with my son opened me to the possibility of working with him to paint a different picture of his life, one without fear, you too can open the possibilities for your tribe. As you listen to your TRIBE and you share in their successes, failures, joys, and pains, the higher vision for the TRIBE, the needed transformation, will reveal itself more clearly. You will begin to connect names, faces, stories, and real people to the needs that the TRIBE can meet. Communicate the transformational vision clearly and often. Throughout your conversations, invite people into sharing and participating in this vision. It is through this vision that hope comes alive and people can take flight.
Share Your Experience with Mindfulness!
What else works for you and your TRIBE (or your family)? I am just beginning to learn about the power of mindfulness in my own life and relationships, and would love to hear more about your experience in the comments.
Many people in our lives, whether they are building businesses, communities, and TRIBES or not could really use these 5 simple steps to Mindfulness (and the valuable extra insights that our TRIBE adds in the comments below!). These are effective tools even in our families, marriages and friendships. Would you take some time to make the world a better place today and share this with the people in your network? Simply click the social sharing buttons to the left of the article.
My Name is Jason Spencer and I Build TRIBES
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Image Credit: Dave Allen