There are around 200+ million businesses in the world, with an estimated 10+ million leaders, most of which are ignorant to the benefits of conscious leading and compassion.
Imagine if most of these leaders would embrace mindful leadership to transform their companies!
This would raise global consciousness significantly on this planet!
* Constructing thriving teams and purposeful organizations with meaningful and sustainable impact.
* Helping others becoming mindful and inspirational leaders to change the world using a data-driven and scientific approach!
Join the Fellowship of Mindful Leaders
ABOUT REINER KRAFT, PhD
After studying computer science in Germany during the mid-nineties, I decided to move to the Silicon Valley in California.
Freshly graduated, I figured that this is where the “action” was. As the Internet rose in prominence, I worked in various roles as an engineer, scientist, inventor, product manager, and technology leader for large companies like IBM Research and Yahoo.
Besides working, I continued to deepen and broaden my education, earning my PhD in computer science from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2004.
What an exciting and wild ride! Many Internet technologies that we take for granted today were invented and built back then. While working at Yahoo, I was proud about the impact I had on millions of people by innovating digital products and improving Yahoo’s search technology.
Besides being an engineer and researcher, I also invented and filed more than 120 patent applications with the US patent office. Both IBM Research and Yahoo recognized me as a Master Inventor, and the prestigious MIT Technology Review (TR 100) in 2003 also nominated me as a top innovator under the age of 30 alongside other now-famous nominees, like Larry Page (Google) and Jerry Yang (Yahoo). This was a great honor!
Overall, I spent almost 20 years in California. Life was good. But in 2016, it was time for a change, and I decided to move with my family to Berlin, where I built up and scaled technology organizations at Zalando, Europe's leading e-commerce and technology company for fashion.
At the beginning of 2019, I joined a technology start-up (Yunar) in a CTO role to gain more experience working in smaller organizations.
I first became a technology leader back in 2006. I realized that I could multiply my impact by managing engineering teams working toward a common vision.
I learned something important:
It is the quality of leadership that determines the overall quality of what gets delivered to the customer, as well as the quality of everyone’s work environment in the organization.
A good leader will define a bold vision and purpose, inspire the team, and support as well as guide them along the way to reach this vision.
Before I realized the importance and impact of purposeful leadership, I always wondered:
What defines a good and successful leader?
I had the privilege to work with and for a few exceptional managers and mentors over the years, but I also observed other leaders that weren't that great.
While attending the University of Berkeley, California to learn engineering and entrepreneurial leadership (ELPP) and obtaining feedback from my teams, mentors, and co-workers—it became clear that the leadership is quite complex, and there are a variety of methods and approaches that can go in a leader’s tool box.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to leadership, as much depends on the context and situation.
Each leader also has a unique, personal leadership style shaped by his/her capabilities and past experiences.
Starting my Mindfulness Journey
While finding my own style in 2015, I experienced a major and unexpected disruption.
I always worked very hard in my job. In my spare time, I also experimented with various start-up ideas and worked as an adjunct professor at the University of California in Santa Cruz, teaching Web engineering. I later realized that working 16 hours a day over a long period is not healthy thing and that it will eventually exhaust you.
Luckily, I noticed this before I was totally burned out and took action by enrolling in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress-reduction (MBSR) class offered by Yahoo. This was the first time I had been exposed to meditation and mindfulness.
Overall, it felt good, and part of my personal and spiritual growth depended on being a student of mindfulness. I had a few deep, mystical experiences during that time and found myself achieving more balance between my personal life and work. My health and wellbeing also improved, and I became more resilient to stress.
In the following years, I became more deeply committed to these practices, focused more on personal growth, and consequently made substantial lifestyle changes. Techniques like yoga and meditation positively influenced my life, and I was increasingly exposed to valuable insights from various mindfulness practitioners and traditions.
A Data-driven & Scientific Approach to Mindful Leadership
However, as a scientist I always wondered how do I measure my progress?
Progress towards higher stress resilience, better overall health, and consciousness growth.
For example, if I sit there and meditate for 20 minutes, how do I know it was helpful for my body and mind? Was it an effective use of my time? Would it be better to meditate 30 minutes instead, and how often?
This is when I started experimenting with various electronic devices (e.g., like the Muse meditation headband, HeartMath, ...) and technologies that would allow me to measure my body's response to mindfulness techniques.
I realized that meditation and mindfulness techniques have a more effective impact if you have a healthy body. This is when I got inspired by biohacking pioneers like Dave Asprey, Ben Greenfield, and Olli Sovijärvi.
Biohacking is closely related to the Quantified Self movement. It uses the latest in wearable technology and testing labs to test our bodies.
With short feedback loops, we can experiment and quickly discover what works and doesn’t work with diet and lifestyle changes. Technologies to track sleep, exercise, stress, health and even brain function are accessible to us nowadays.
I started experimenting with different approaches, and gradually figured out a system for me that can not only be used to measure the results of our efforts that we put into mindfulness activities, but also incorporates the latest science on body improvements ideas with the goals to become ultra resilient to stress, improve my overall health, and continue lifting my consciousness growth.
Training the Mind is the Foundation
There is the latin saying "Mens sana in corpore sano" (A healthy mind in a healthy body), expressing the theory that physical exercise is an important or essential part of mental and psychological well-being. While I agree with this quote during my experiments I found out that the opposite is even truer:
"A Healthy Body with a Healthy Mind"
Similar to how a body needs training to stay strong, the mind needs also training to stay focused in the present moment.
And only if you have a healthy mind, will you have the foundation for a health body.
Did you know that a human mind produces 50.000 thoughts on average per day?
If you have an unhealthy mind chances are that the majority of those thoughts will be negative, and therefore adversely affecting your body on a molecular level. There is numerous scientific evidence that points this out.
That means you can eat all the good organic stuff, work out regularly, but still would continuously become sicker on a molecular level if you don't get your mind in order!
Since making that realization, I've become committed to keep training my mind on a daily basis.
Mindfulness in the Work Place
Then I asked myself:
Wouldn’t it be great to transfer the benefits of mindfulness achieved in my personal life to the business context?
However, in my role as a leader in the workplace, I noticed that too many people were guided by their egos, sometimes engaging in political maneuvers about growing their influence.
Too many leaders focus on achieving goals and delivering business results, but equally important is how the work is accomplished and the personal values that guide that action.
Identifying your own personal values, as well as your limiting thoughts and false beliefs, is an important step in increasing your self-awareness.
When I started applying these mindfulness principles to my leadership, I noticed encouraging results right away.
In 2017, I published the 12 Mindfulness Leadership Principles and applied the principles therein to my organizations.
Throughout this experience, I gained considerable experience and insight into what works—and what doesn’t.
I'm passionate about the topic of mindful leadership, and I’ve realized its full potential to create a purposeful work environment that leads to happier employees and long-lasting, sustainable, positive business results for a company.
Most of us intuitively agree that mindfulness programs and initiatives are helpful for organizations, but I’ll make a case in one of my articles that
Mindfulness in organizations is not merely a nice feature to have but a crucial foundation for the long-term success of an organization.
It is literally a matter of "evolve or die"—either organizations work towards becoming conscious businesses, or they’ll eventually dissolve.
In my opinion, traditional management training in companies is insufficient and focuses mostly on training certain skills, but very few coaching opportunities or experienced leaders exist emphasize mindfulness and present awareness in organizations. (However, I’ve anecdotally observed a positive upwards trend in the past years.)
It all starts with the mindset of the leader with enough present awareness to look beyond the daily power games and the egos that seek success through unmindful means that result in fear, frustration, and stress for all people involved.
With my blog, I'm hoping to provide a valuable contribution to the global workplace and hopefully increase mindfulness in organizations as more leaders become mindful and increase their present awareness.
To become a Mindful Leader, you must surround yourself with a community of like minded professionals and experts to support you in your journey.
For this reason I have recently created the Fellowship of Mindful Leaders. Together with other leaders we embark on a powerful mission to change the business landscape on this planet.
The Fellowship is there for you to support you in your personal growth during this journey, and that you have the opportunity to mastermind and connect with your fellow Mindful Leaders and subject experts.
Join me on raising consciousness in the business world!