"How to Survive Our Faster Future" is the subtitle of my current read: Whiplash (by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe). We're living in a "VUCA" world, characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Not only is change inevitable, its constancy and rapidity can add to levels of stress and anxiety-- unless we decide to see VUCA as opportunity. Embracing the emerging future prompts a feeling of open possibility, and a curiosity to discover and realize our greatest potentials, in all sorts of ventures. We’re undoubtedly living in times of rapid change and high demand; times of immense challenge. I certainly feel it– all I need to do is glance at daily news headlines to have a feeling of perspective and urgency. This is where mindfulness, wise leadership and global perspective give an advantage, yielding a Mindful Global Competency mindset.
We want to ensure that the work we’re doing is valued; we want to know that it matters and matches our goals and commitments. We strive to maintain a sense of balance, as we navigate this complex world, maintaining focus and resilience while maximizing our capabilities. In addition, the global corporate culture and increased connectivity require even more flexibility, and broader skill sets that encompass a range of capacities, including emotional intelligence and empathy.
Instead of feeling daunted, it’s the ideal time for us to invite some mindfulness into the equation. Here we are in a complex, fascinating environment, ripe with opportunity. The field of global mobility and intercultural exchange has never been more exciting– and, there has never been a higher demand for these skills and abilities, across all industries. Integrating mindfulness values and practices into a global competency model that embraces a flexible, resilient mindset has significant long-term benefits for career, health, well-being and happiness.
Embedded in mindfulness is deeper gratitude: an appreciation for what is present, in the current moment, even as we set-goals and look toward the emerging future.
In a globalized working culture, mindfulness is especially valuable because it gives agency back to the individual. It gives a better sense of stability, even in situations that might be beyond our ability to anticipate and fully control. Because of this, mindfulness also increases our connection capacity in place of fragmentation. In other words, mindfulness creates community.
We are able to reach out and connect with others more easily, because we are more self-aware, with developed skills of resiliency. We are confident, not despite challenges, but because of them. In Stanford researcher Carol Dweck’s seminal book Mindset, she relates this capacity to growth mindset. It’s all about mindfulness, self-awareness, and embracing the rigor instead of denying or avoiding it.
We live in the midst of a global corporate climate that is rife with burnout, stress and depression. Recent studies cite stress and burnout as the top threat to workplace health, resulting in great losses across all quality measurement areas, including employee work satisfaction, job retention, company culture, and revenue. The rate of burnout continues to increase each year; mindfulness is seen as a top strategy and method to provide burnout prevention. Instead of succumbing to this threatening trend, looking at establishing an environment that promotes the best, most adaptive and advantageous state of well-being is the answer for global leadership.
As a burnout prevention measure, stress reducer, leadership and confidence booster, creativity cultivator, and overall well-being motivator and life enhancer, mindfulness serves as a necessary base layer for a holistic model of leadership, learning and global competency. It’s a lens to look through, and it can be applied to just about everything.
This could be why, when I’m asked to define mindfulness, I call it simply: “a way to be in the world”– with awareness (understanding of surrounding context), advancement (having a sense of purpose), and authenticity (detaching from judgment; focusing on situations while maintaining resilience). I use these three A’s as foundational pillars of mindfulness and wise leadership mindsets.
Recognizing our own multi-dimensional natures and experiences, we can operate with curiosity, allowing us to build our abilities and reach goals while staying grounded in this complex, inter-connected global landscape. Combining mindfulness and global competency could yield a new, even more powerful concept: mindful global competency. I'm testing it out, applying this mindset to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), education models, VR experiences and more. Stay tuned for updates as we speed toward the future, together.
Caitlin Krause is dedicated to Wise Leadership and A Better World, at global scale and prototype pace. This post is adapted from a guest blog Caitlin wrote in January 2017 that appeared in Global People Transitions. The book Whiplash, by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe, and the work of the MIT Media Lab, certainly inspire the author, who is still in-process of reading about the 9 principles. Expect a follow-up.