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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Smile. Breathe. Listen.

As a busy executive, you might think you don’t even have the hour it takes toSmile. Breathe. Listen: The 3 Mindful Acts for Leaders. Here are some highlights that might just encourage you to read the entire book or at least recommend it to your team.


  • We are hard-wired to smile. We’re even smiling in the womb. Kids smile like crazy, and mirror neurons allow us to “catch” smiling from others.
  • Smiling is good for your long-term health and for a longer and more engaged life.
  • Smiling reduces stress, helps us work better, and makes people want to be around us.
  • The “Duchenne” smile—a smile that engages the muscles of the eyes as well as those of the mouth―is viewed as genuine and authentic.
  • Smiling makes us appear more likable, courteous, and competent.
  • Leaders who smile put people at ease, spread positive emotions like a virus, and create an environment in which people can do their best work.


  • Breathing is automatic. However, leaders who understand how to control their breathing will be much more effective.
  • Mindful Breathing is the “Big Switch” that helps us move from mental rumination or anxious thinking to more a more thoughtful, relaxed state.
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a research-based, highly successful program based on mindful breathing and consistent, regular practice.
  • Regularly sitting or lying quietly starts the “practice” of mindfulness.
  • The impact of mindful breathing can be seen in our personal, team, and corporate health.
  • Leaders who learn mindful breathing not only help themselves become better people but also help those around them to do the same.


  • Listening is a skill possessed by the very best leaders.
  • Listening represents an important gift that every leader can give―a leader’s time and attention are highly valued by those around the leader.
  • Good listening consists of presence, technique, and practice.
  • Presence is demonstrated when leaders are fully engaged, focused, and not distracted when talking to people.
  • The Speaker-Listener Technique focuses on the listener fully understanding the speaker’s concerns.
  • The Ladder of Inference demonstrates how anyone, including leaders, can jump to conclusions based on their own often erroneous assumptions and beliefs.
  • Despite a prodigious amount of data and statistics about how important listening is, a number of leaders—in business, medicine, and any other profession—have poor listening skills.
  • Unfortunately, the prognosis for whether people will become more focused, better listeners is not good, because of technology intrusions (emails, texts, phone calls vying for our immediate attention.

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