E194 Mindfulness is KEY to Leadership with Marc Lesser

You’ve probably heard the term “mindfulness” but does it have any place in corporate #leadership??

Top organizations all around the world are starting to embrace the concept, so this week I’m talking with Marc Lesser on the #JammingwithJason #podcast.

I met Marc several years ago at the Mindful Workplace Summit in northern California who not only has been studying and practicing mindfulness for decades, but he’s also been the CEO of several companies, so he knows exactly how mindfulness fits into corporate leadership.

And since command and control, dictator style leadership hurts people, organizations, and is dying… wouldn’t you rather learn how to embrace the future of leadership?

Marc Lesser is a speaker, facilitator, workshop leader, and executive coach. He is known for his engaging, experiential presentations that integrate mindfulness and emotional intelligence practices and training. He is the author of 4 books, including Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader: Lessons from Google and a Zen Monastery Kitchen, and CEO of ZBA Associates, an executive development and leadership consulting company.

Marc helped develop the world-renowned Search Inside Yourself (SIY) program within Google – a mindfulness-based emotional intelligence training for leaders which teaches the art of integrating mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and business savvy for creating great corporate cultures and a better world.

He founded and was CEO of 3 companies, and has an MBA degree from New York University. Marc was a resident of the San Francisco Zen Center for 10 years, and director of Tassajara, Zen Mountain Center, the first Zen monastery in the western world. He leads Mill Valley Zen, a weekly meditation group.

Learn more about Marc at: https://marclesser.net/

Listen in at: https://www.jasonmefford.com/jammingwithjason/

Transcript

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Jason Mefford: Welcome to another episode of jamming with Jason hey today, I have a very, very special guest with me, you may not have heard him but.

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Jason Mefford: This guy really is a rock star when it comes to the topic that we’re talking about today.

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Jason Mefford: And so i’m really excited again it’s a term that you might not have heard before around being a mindful leader.

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Jason Mefford: But whether you’ve heard about it or not, you need to hear about this, because this is the way leadership is going and for you to be successful.

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Jason Mefford: In the future, you really have to develop some of these skills around becoming a mindful leader.

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Jason Mefford: And so, with that make sure, whatever you do listen to this whole episode go back listen to it again, this is one of those that will be an episode, you will want to refer back to again and again, and with that let’s roll that episode.

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Jason Mefford: Well hey mark I am so honored and grateful to have you here today.

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Jason Mefford: With me, you know I think we we first met about three years ago, I want to say at the mindful workplace summit up there in northern California, where you’re actually at and.

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Jason Mefford: you’ve got a book alright seven practices of mindful leaders that i’ve gone through and read.

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Jason Mefford: And I just wanted to go through, and have a conversation about this today so maybe just you know, let you introduce yourself a little bit I know you’ve you’ve been teaching this for a long time to some of the biggest companies in the world and top CEOs around the world, so.

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Jason Mefford: Take our away, mark you give you give you know your your little background and then let’s get in and start talking about what What this actually means and.

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Jason Mefford: Share see where the conversation goes.

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Marc Lesser: Sure thanks Jason good to be here, well, I actually want to.

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Marc Lesser: You know, at the risk, the risk, maybe of aiming.

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Marc Lesser: aiming to hi I always like to start, whether it’s a.

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Marc Lesser: You know whether it’s a conversation like this, or a training with with setting a really high aspiration my aspiration is let’s let’s change lives.

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Jason Mefford: Oh yeah.

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Marc Lesser: let’s let’s change lives let’s go deep let’s help people to.

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Marc Lesser: Think about things in a way, maybe that they haven’t before.

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Marc Lesser: let’s talk about what’s what’s most important you know this, this whole topic I it’s funny the language language has such.

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Marc Lesser: You know language doesn’t quite do it, you know the Everything is mindful, these days, you know from mindful mindful cereal to to you know my info.

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Marc Lesser: Car washing or whatever, but but to me this work is the you know the the human the human work of you know how to how to show up as a.

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Marc Lesser: Full healthy thriving human being and get stuff done and really get stuff done and get the and get stuff done that matters you know, like this is what an amazing time this is.

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Marc Lesser: But i’ll just say you know I feel so lucky that.

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Marc Lesser: You know I my own background I got to somehow I wandered into the San Francisco Zen Center when I was 22 years old and stayed 10 years and feel like I got and got to do amazing things in the work world I got to.

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Learn.

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Marc Lesser: I learned, I was I got I found myself in charge of a you know draft horse farming project, and then I found myself running running a Zen monastery kitchen and then I found myself as as Director of this.

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Marc Lesser: This Zen monastery, which was also a kind of a conference Center and and resort and.

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Marc Lesser: And a lot of that I felt like was was surprising was trainer ship training and leadership was training and in a but a different kind of leadership and and I went to Business School I spent, then I spent 15 years as CEO of a small publishing company.

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Marc Lesser: and

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Marc Lesser: And, and shortly after that I found myself standing up in front of rooms in google’s headquarters of Google engineers were were in some way, I felt like I was getting to learn and integrate and and transmit.

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Marc Lesser: Everything that I had learned, or at least and everything I was trying to learn from the.

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Marc Lesser: You know the deep training in in mindfulness and also you know also training in business and and and running a company.

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Marc Lesser: And, and so much of it, and I think what you were alluding to I think that.

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Marc Lesser: I think we’re in the midst of a major.

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Marc Lesser: Probably worldwide shifting of how we think about work and how we think about leadership, you know that we’re going from the you know the.

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Marc Lesser: assembly line mentality, or the mechanistic mentality to much more of a humanistic mentality and and and especially it’s amazing now, in fact, one of the things.

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Marc Lesser: i’ve I, you know how much is happening virtual and the and the, the need for virtual connection and communication and effectiveness and leadership which sometimes I think.

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Marc Lesser: You know mindfulness practice is even more challenging virtually but sometimes actually it’s amazing I think how.

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Marc Lesser: You know it actually helps mindfulness practice and the virtual big they go together surprisingly well and that they’re all about.

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Marc Lesser: Deep listening and connection and clarity around vision and and effectiveness all kind of mush mush together, so you know and and I also just want to say here we are, you know kind of date, maybe this will date this, but I think it’s okay to date things as we’re coming out of a pandemic.

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Marc Lesser: We are we are experiencing.

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You know.

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Marc Lesser: Racial issues in the workplace and everywhere i’ve been really having a you know really fascinated working with teams worldwide teams have many different.

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Marc Lesser: ethnic backgrounds and racial backgrounds and financial backgrounds and that’s fascinating and you know, and we are we’re waking up that we’re going to destroy this freakin planet.

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Marc Lesser: Unless we wake up to from this material this this materialistic.

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Marc Lesser: And I think it was all done with the best of intentions, you know we’ve we’ve created these systems that that have been incredibly successful in creating great comfort.

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Marc Lesser: And and solving solving you know a lot of medical problems and financial problems but we’re at a I think a really interesting pivotal place right right now.

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Jason Mefford: I totally agree with you, and I think it’s you know, again, I mean.

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Jason Mefford: The history of leadership, you know again we’re here in the US so of US business the productivity of the assembly line.

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Jason Mefford: You know you follow up with after the Second World War, a lot of command and control type of leadership, I mean that’s that’s what these guys were used to in the military right.

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Jason Mefford: And it’s created a huge huge increase in productivity, a huge increase in wealth, you know literally all over the world now some of that’s concentrated but that’s a whole separate topic.

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Jason Mefford: But, but I think in that like you said now people are starting to wake up and it’s like is just making money, the only important thing is being productive, the only important thing.

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Jason Mefford: And I think you know we’ve been seeing this for a while rise of depression, you know rise of you know bunch of workplace stress other things like this that have been going on.

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Jason Mefford: And I think like you said, the pandemic has actually been an opportunity for people to wake up, because they got detached from that for a little while and they start asking themselves, these same questions right.

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Jason Mefford: Is this is this really all it’s important know, maybe it’s important to be a human being and to actually treat the other person across the screen or in my office as human as well yeah.

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Marc Lesser: I was just looking this morning at some of the statistics that are coming out about the.

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Marc Lesser: The number of people that that want more flexibility and the power, you know how valuable you know, again, you know that’s i’d say that’s one of the.

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Marc Lesser: pieces of humanism is we, you know we all want flexibility, you know it’s interesting when I was running you know, one of the companies that I started and was running was the search inside yourself leadership Institute, which I.

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Marc Lesser: I helped develop you know, develop a mindfulness program inside of Google that became crazy crazy popular successful, but what I was just thinking of now was when I creating this organization I instituted a an open vacation policy.

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Marc Lesser: and which at the time was somewhat radical maybe still somewhat radical but.

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Marc Lesser: and

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Marc Lesser: I learned so much from doing that, I mean one of the things I learned this is little bit a little bit like what you and I were talking about earlier about.

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Marc Lesser: You know, being a nice guy right so and and I have to say, we can come back to I was just reading this criticism of the current Google CEO.

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Marc Lesser: for being a nice guy and and there’s this still there’s this underlying assumption that you can’t be a nice guy and be a successful leader, and I think that is just such crap and.

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Marc Lesser: and

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Marc Lesser: But you know when when I instituted this open vacation policy, I noticed the way in which I didn’t quite trust myself and that it started to come up for me wait a minute.

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Marc Lesser: i’m going to be taken advantage of here, if I have this open vacation policy and but then that that led me to to think that well if we’re going to have an open vacation policy i’m basically saying.

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Marc Lesser: I don’t care whether you’re here or not, in fact I don’t even care so much about how many hours you’re putting in what I care about is what you’re getting done and your product and your productivity and your creativity and therefore we need to find much more.

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Marc Lesser: We need to develop systems and ways of measuring that and and and that and once we kind of moved in that direction that helped me settle down myself and begin to trust that I could do this and that we could do this and their research people who, having an open vacation policy.

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Marc Lesser: You know, some people took advantage of it and those people found themselves not with the company much longer, most people loved it and and where there was this incredible sense of.

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Marc Lesser: appreciation, especially and and the more that I could appreciate others and give people that room and make it clear, and this alignment around what.

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Marc Lesser: What success looks like that’s such that I find myself that that conversation I keep having that today with CEOs you know, are you having conversations.

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Marc Lesser: With yourself and with the key people that you work with what does what does success look like and and partly what success looks like for a lot of people is flexibility, you know.

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Marc Lesser: And, and like I I I wanted to treat people the way I wanted to be treated, I want to be able to get the work done do more, more than than what anyone expects of me, and I want to be able to.

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Marc Lesser: have great flexibility in my in my life so that I can enjoy being with family and enjoy traveling and doing things and be you know, be a full human being and.

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Marc Lesser: Mr part of that is you know I love working and a lot of people love working we I think we’re many people love getting stuff done and working as a team.

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Jason Mefford: Well, they do and it’s it’s interesting because, as you were talking there to you know it.

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Jason Mefford: Your apprehension right of doing this open vacation policy as well, because you’re like hold it I don’t know how to measure this right because.

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Jason Mefford: Because it’s again it’s it’s it’s a different way of looking at business and how do we right because because we keep score in business.

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Jason Mefford: And usually we’ve kept score with just financial numbers right there’s been some stuff you know I think starting back in the 80s with balanced scorecard Yang and some other stuff like that.

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Jason Mefford: But we continue to have these these discussions right and just because we don’t know how to measure it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t figure it out and start doing it.

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Jason Mefford: Right, but I think that’s that’s one of the things that that holds a lot of leaders back from embracing this because they just don’t know they’re not familiar with it right.

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Marc Lesser: Well, and, and again I think this in in this old model, all we measure and all that really counts is is financials and you know I can remember.

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Marc Lesser: Not that many years ago, I was facilitating a retreat of the leadership’s name of a you know, a big one, a big legal firm multi billion dollar legal firm and and one of their big issues was.

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Marc Lesser: How do you deal with partners who are bringing in huge amounts of money for the firm but are horrible emotionally and are.

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Marc Lesser: And that you find that people on their team are leaving and nobody nobody wants to work with them, but they bring in a lot of money.

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Marc Lesser: that’s a big problem, and I understand i’ve had not not at that scale, but I can remember having those problems and and like it takes it takes courage and clarity to have those difficult conversations with people that that.

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Marc Lesser: We have certain certain measurements and certain guidelines for how we work together and it’s not enough it’s not enough, you know to.

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Marc Lesser: Of course it’s a you know it’s it’s great having people that are bringing in a lot of money for the firm great sales people or people who are creating products or whatever.

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Marc Lesser: But it’s equally important that we are working in a way that is a sense of develop cultivating a sense of caring and.

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Marc Lesser: And you know this famous it’s the first line in my in that book you mentioned seven practices of a mindful leader culture eats strategy for for breakfast so.

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Marc Lesser: It may look good in the short term, to have a high achiever who’s who’s you know yelling at people, but over time and that time, it can be pretty short, it will it will it’ll come back to bite you really big time yeah.

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Jason Mefford: Well, so I wanted to kind of to because again some some people may not be familiar with this term like you said there’s a lot of people are using the word mindful or mindfulness.

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Jason Mefford: But sometimes you know a lot of people are still like what does that even mean right and and I love your your background because, like you said you spent so much time.

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Jason Mefford: kind of you know, in the Zen monastery and doing that kind of work, but then you also went back to business school, you were a CEO of a few companies you’ve been working in the business world, for a long time.

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Jason Mefford: And you’ve been able to kind of meld these things together right so so if we can, I think everybody kind of understands what leadership is right and yeah there’s different kinds of leadership, but what is.

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Jason Mefford: What is mindfulness actually really, really mean and and how do we kind of translate that into the business world and into leadership.

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Jason Mefford: yeah because because a lot of times people think it’s like you know just people sitting around meditating sort of thing so but but it’s it’s much more than that.

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Marc Lesser: Yes, yeah and and it’s much more than we’re gonna be able to talk about in this one conversation it’s this enormous umbrella, you know but but.

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Marc Lesser: You know where the term even comes from it, you know it comes from a early early Buddhist teaching and.

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Marc Lesser: In fact, a fairly simple relatively easy read is a document, called the four foundations of mindfulness.

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Marc Lesser: And, and I I believe that’s one of the first uses of the of the word, and this was supposedly one of the first teachings of the historical Buddha 2500 years ago, you know where he talks about you know.

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Marc Lesser: You know, and if you could mindfulness of the body right right mindfulness of the body mindfulness of one’s feelings.

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Marc Lesser: mindfulness of mind or mindfulness of consciousness and and the fourth is mindfulness of patterns or systems now now all of this was originally exposed and taught in the context of how human beings could become more awake you know free emotionally spiritually free.

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Marc Lesser: And, but I think what’s fascinating to me is is how well it translates and works in any it’s pretty much the context of any human activity, whether it’s you know these practices, I think, are.

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Marc Lesser: Just as applicable to one’s marriage or ones parenting.

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Marc Lesser: or ones leadership life or anything right it’s basically about.

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Marc Lesser: You know, paying attention.

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Marc Lesser: But really paying attention and paying attention to even to how we pay attention.

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Marc Lesser: and

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Marc Lesser: and

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Marc Lesser: But I would say, within that, though, is with a particular attitude it’s with an attitude of deep curiosity.

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Marc Lesser: and kindness.

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Marc Lesser: You know, a.

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Marc Lesser: An expression i’ve been using a lot lately in my work is creating cultures of.

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Marc Lesser: compassionate accountability.

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Marc Lesser: Because mindfulness is not just about being Nice.

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Marc Lesser: it’s about being real it’s about being clear it’s about being incredibly talented at you know at at living and leading.

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Marc Lesser: and

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Marc Lesser: Yes, so.

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Marc Lesser: You know, but I would also say mindfulness.

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Marc Lesser: Some other key pieces of it are.

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Marc Lesser: kind of playing in the realm of ego and ego listening.

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Marc Lesser: And effort and effortlessness and.

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Marc Lesser: And, and I think.

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Marc Lesser: A kind of wins one’s relationship, I think, with.

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Marc Lesser: With change with impermanence is also a key a key part of what I would say, as mindfulness practice so that.

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Marc Lesser: Which means partly it means not avoiding change and not avoiding difficulty, but.

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Marc Lesser: Making oneself as much as you can into someone who has the ability to transform change in difficulty into possibility which this to me sounds like a great definition of leadership right.

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Jason Mefford: There you go yeah.

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Marc Lesser: yeah, how do you how do you on a you know day to day basis, how are you solving problems.

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Marc Lesser: Difficulties at all levels right the business problems human problems, whatever those problems are and how do you face them.

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Marc Lesser: With you know and and look at it means also becoming.

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Marc Lesser: You know not shying away from being.

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Marc Lesser: uncomfortable it’s uncomfortable facing the you know these problems.

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Marc Lesser: it’s so much easier to pretend they don’t exist or get distracted into.

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Marc Lesser: The data to day day to day lives, and you know, I think, though, for anyone listening to this, though, you know I think we’re such.

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Marc Lesser: You know, are we it’s easy to get into a survival if you’re in survival mode if you’re if you if your fear you know I mean, I know I know millionaires or billionaires that that are afraid you know there one day they’re going to be out in the gutter homeless.

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Marc Lesser: And and partly that’s one of the you know.

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Marc Lesser: i’m a big fan of capitalism.

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Marc Lesser: But i’m a fan of capitalism, combined with wise government where where we don’t all have to be so afraid that we’re not going to be able to survive and that we’re in that that we’re not in this together, that you know that it’s every every person for themselves.

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Marc Lesser: So it’s it’s interesting to find just that that right blend of.

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Marc Lesser: Of the the power of entrepreneurship and the power of capitalism, which I think are beautiful thing.

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Marc Lesser: But, combined with with a way that we’re we’re all one team here we’re all one human team here.

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Jason Mefford: But I think one of the one of the terms that you use there was emotionally free right that again as i’ve gone down this path myself right that a lot of times.

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Jason Mefford: We get taught that it’s everything in our external environment right, and so, if we change our external environment if I buy that new car if I get that new job and I have that new title.

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Jason Mefford: Right, then my life is going to be perfect, but we’re still kind of strapped to a lot of the suffering that that we just carry it into the next area right and it’s until we actually.

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Jason Mefford: become more mindful turn it inside because that’s what one of the terms of starting to use more as leadership as an inside out game right it’s an inside game.

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Jason Mefford: You you become a different person by focusing on changing yourself internally your identity, you know, like you said becoming more compassionate more kind.

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Jason Mefford: More understanding of the connectivity that we have with everyone else around us right it’s a interdependency.

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Jason Mefford: They should talk about in your book to you know about depend, I think, depending on others right is one of those different things as well and and getting rid of, or losing this illusion of control that we think we have.

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Marc Lesser: yeah you know.

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Marc Lesser: I love control, you know.

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Marc Lesser: I.

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Marc Lesser: You know I think I think there’s a realness about like you know how do we leverage resources and money, you know that it’s not.

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Marc Lesser: So it’s like to me it’s i’m saying yes to what you’re saying about you know leadership, being an inside job but, but we also, I think, need to skillfully.

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Marc Lesser: How do we work with resources, how do we work with money what’s our but then there’s that what’s our attitude about.

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Marc Lesser: About you know, do we come at things from through a lens of scarcity, or can we come at things through a through a lens of what’s possible.

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Marc Lesser: And, and that if you know if we’re coming at everything through a lens of scarcity, then that’s going to have a certain a certain outcome, now that may have a really good outcome, you know, I think.

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Marc Lesser: We can look at a lot of companies that have been very successful you know in our fact our capitalistic system often rewards people who have.

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Marc Lesser: come from a view of scarcity and control it often works really well, at least in some way it often doesn’t work so well in terms of you know people’s well being and it often doesn’t work so well for for kind of long term sustainable success and.

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Marc Lesser: we’ve created a system, you know.

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Marc Lesser: You know, for years and years we’ve treated we’ve treated resources as though they’re infinite and that’s a big one that we’re finding out, you know.

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Marc Lesser: it’s it’s weird that we’ve we’ve created a system where we tax Labor but we don’t tax resources if if we had only figured that one out, you know 50 years ago.

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Marc Lesser: You know that that that using using this stuff that we’ve pulling up this million million year old you know stuff in the ground that we’ve been able to turn into fossil fuels.

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Marc Lesser: That and cutting down trees, and you know and and every time we create a plastic bottle that ends up in the ocean, this has there’s tremendous cost we’ve ignored.

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Marc Lesser: All these resource costs and what you were saying earlier we’ve also ignored, you know the costs around addiction and and people not sleeping and families breaking up and all all of that so, so I think it’s having.

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Marc Lesser: You know the the impossible, the impossible task, but one that to me, you know we were talking about well what’s the word what is this word this funny word practice, you know.

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Marc Lesser: This funny word practice is is you know, knowing ourselves as best we can, and I think that requires being part of a system of people that can help us know ourselves.

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Marc Lesser: and

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Marc Lesser: it’s also looking at and living and breathing the interdependency of things and and not being powerless and it’s easy it’s easy to say well you know.

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Marc Lesser: I didn’t create these systems, what can I do about these systems that’s that’s the mindset of victim, so the but if you’re asking the question, what can I do you know and and what can I do, starting with I mean i’m I feel like i’m.

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Marc Lesser: i’ve just recently woke up right now waking up to the racial injustice systems that were part of and and seeing you know, seeing.

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Marc Lesser: My privilege as a as a white guy and and then but sky saw how can I best can you know understand.

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Marc Lesser: What what you know other other perspectives and how can I leverage the resources and benefits that I have, and how can I help other people.

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yeah.

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Jason Mefford: yeah and because it is, I mean like you said, we can.

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Jason Mefford: We can stay in victimhood and we can say well you know not my problem or I can’t do anything about it, or we can actually be the leader yeah and make some change.

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Marc Lesser: You know victimhood is very popular and it’s easy to just like this is when we talk about you know mindfulness practice what i’ve noticed and i’ve noticed in myself.

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Marc Lesser: That.

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Marc Lesser: whenever something goes wrong or whenever i’m angry or upset.

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Marc Lesser: Almost not almost unconsciously who’s to blame for this who can I blame you know and that’s an effect.

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Marc Lesser: That and that’s happening all the time in our workplaces, this is why I think our workplaces get so.

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Marc Lesser: You know so it’s like.

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Marc Lesser: Right and and yet right.

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Marc Lesser: When things go wrong, we do want to know who’s responsible right how How did this happen.

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Marc Lesser: You know my my my first company was a I mentioned a publishing company, I once published a greeting card that said blame is such a bore and I would say it’s even more than a board it’s it’s it’s really destructive it’s really destructive but we.

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Marc Lesser: it’s very popular.

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Marc Lesser: blame and fear and a mindset of survival and scarcity, these are incorrect like like noticing those in ourselves and noticing how easy it is to fall into those fallen to those mindsets and even if even if what you’re saying is no I never ever do that well.

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Jason Mefford: You probably do more than you realize.

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Marc Lesser: I mean, one of my practices, one of my practices is when I noticed myself doing that i’m like oh wow that there I am doing that scarcity mindset thing that i’m always suggesting to others that they that they.

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Marc Lesser: avoid or watch out for that scarcity mindset.

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Jason Mefford: yeah well and so let’s again for people that aren’t aren’t really kind of familiar with so mean what is.

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Jason Mefford: What does it look like to be more mindful right because, like you said so, sometimes it’s may be noticing, you know, sometimes it’s pain its other things that we’re noticing and we’re actually just becoming more aware and more.

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Jason Mefford: introspective and kind of as as to what’s going on, you know you refer in the book to the the beginner’s mind, which again is one that I love that idea of always seeing things from a fresh approach.

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Jason Mefford: And like you said so so much of the time right, we want to play victim, we want to point the finger at somebody else, but I was always taught when I was little.

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Jason Mefford: Right every time you point your finger at somebody else you got three of them pointing back at you right, so a lot of times.

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Jason Mefford: You know and i’ve seen this just from coaching people to write that a lot of times when they think that there’s a problem with another person.

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Jason Mefford: it’s not a problem with the other person it’s the other person has a problem with the way you’re performing right and you change yourself the problem goes away.

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Marc Lesser: I I love it in its it’s very common you know where i’ll be doing a training in a group situation and and someone will ask you know how do I deal with difficult people right well we’re all difficult people to other people.

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Marc Lesser: You know, when I was CEO of my last company.

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Marc Lesser: Some people found me difficult.

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Marc Lesser: You know, sometimes I was difficult because I didn’t include everyone enough in a decision making, sometimes I was difficult because I included too many people and decision making and and like, so this is this is, I think.

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Marc Lesser: You know i’d say and again going back i’m not trying to avoid you keep coming back to this question So what is this mindfulness thing, and in some way it is.

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Marc Lesser: Seeing you know from a multitude of perspectives.

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Marc Lesser: And at the same time being confident in ourselves and and being you know, having having a.

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Marc Lesser: What i’d say and an emotional.

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Marc Lesser: an emotional freedom and ability to be to feel an ability to part so part of part of it’s not just seeing from a variety, you know, again, we may be used, we use this word empathy.

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Marc Lesser: And we use these words compassion, which again lots of evidence lots of evidence that empathy.

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Marc Lesser: is a key quality of a leader actually seeing what’s happening with the people we work with and perhaps with our customers, but also feel you know feeling it this kind of there’s a heart there’s a heart fullness part to it, I almost wish that the word mindfulness was artfulness.

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Marc Lesser: Because I think there there’s a it’s not just a.

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Marc Lesser: You know it’s you know you know I often use the expression, you know it’s easy to say but life is short, you know, life is short, so therefore we should focus on what matters most well.

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Marc Lesser: that’s that’s an ongoing difficult heart practice.

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Marc Lesser: That you know what does it really mean what does it, what does it really mean that life is short, what does it really mean that.

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Marc Lesser: That we’re not always going to be here and that you know I sometimes say if you if you’re if you have some doubts about impermanence and change just look in the mirror, you know it’s like.

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Marc Lesser: it’s you know and and how do we and that’s not meant it’s not meant to be.

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Marc Lesser: You know to be burdensome but it’s meant, how do we live with life is short as a way of developing more emotional freedom and range.

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Marc Lesser: So, again there’s there’s.

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Marc Lesser: it’s it’s a it’s a, I think, a very much a multi layered.

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Marc Lesser: qualities and practices to this one word that we call mindfulness or that we call awareness, or you know it’s so interesting the these three words are words you know these words mindfulness emotional intelligence and leadership.

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Marc Lesser: To me there’s tremendous overlap, you know with these three big big you know buckets of.

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Marc Lesser: Quality of.

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Marc Lesser: activity.

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Jason Mefford: Well, and that’s why I was thinking, you know as we’re as we’re going here a couple of things that you just said and then maybe kind of come back, because this will tie back into our nice guy assumption.

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Jason Mefford: You know there’s just kind of reference, at the beginning, because I think you know again so many people are taught well there’s business and there’s personal.

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Jason Mefford: And it’s you know you hear sayings like it’s just business it’s not personal right in kind of the way that we sometimes interact with other people or.

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Jason Mefford: You know, in the workplace there’s no room for emotions right we’re we’re just logical in the workplace, but you know humans are emotional beings and so.

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Jason Mefford: The whole idea of of emotional intelligence, the authenticity feeling showing emotion that has been for so long, just you know said no, you can’t do that if you’re a good leader you’ve got to be a hard ass right you’ve got to.

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Jason Mefford: You know, and again that’s that command and control but but, but how does it look and like you said, these are big big topics, but there’s a place for emotion in the workplace and in leadership i’m guessing right.

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Marc Lesser: yeah I think there’s I even think that using the the l word, you know loves know that I, the first two practices in my book, are.

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Marc Lesser: You know, love love the work and and do the work so it’s like loving this work of developing more self awareness loving the work of caring about people and trusting people you know, and in some way it’s it’s funny how we.

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Marc Lesser: we’ve lost it’s easy to lose sight of that that business and work is fundamentally ways to serve people.

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Jason Mefford: that’s the whole purpose behind it right yeah.

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Jason Mefford: yeah we’re providing goods or services to improve the lives of others.

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Marc Lesser: yeah I mean it’s a different mindset, then how can I increase wealth for myself what kind of what can I do now.

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Marc Lesser: Again, I understand that mindset and it’s not a bad it’s not a bad mindset, as long as you don’t as long as you can integrate that creating wealth creation, with.

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Marc Lesser: Serving serving others and usually those two things are are miraculously interconnected, but the other thing that I, I think that.

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Marc Lesser: You know, I was thinking of a.

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Marc Lesser: A CEO who came to me.

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Marc Lesser: Who was really unhappy in his in his job and wanted to was looking to make a change and was terrified at leaving his current company and and didn’t know what he wanted to do.

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Marc Lesser: And it was so interesting to start with what might it look like, for you to enjoy and appreciate your current role, what is it what is it about your let’s start there like wouldn’t it wouldn’t it be great to.

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Marc Lesser: come to a place where you could actually enjoy and appreciate, where you are and then leave if you want to leave.

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Marc Lesser: As opposed to this this and that and that’s a very now that’s, not to say there, there are you know, there are toxic workplaces and sometimes we just get to a place where.

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Marc Lesser: there’s a mismatch between you know what we’re doing and what we want to be doing but.

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Marc Lesser: But it’s but it’s a super interesting question to dig deeper into you know again what what what’s where are the gaps, where are the gaps about.

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Marc Lesser: What what’s what is it that is has had in this case, how did the CEO come to feel so disempowered that he felt like a victim in his own company that he was the CEO of and and we were able to get in there and look at some of those.

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Marc Lesser: Some of those values and assumptions and behaviors and and and it was very satisfying when.

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Marc Lesser: we’re able to shift.

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Marc Lesser: Partly he wasn’t having you know, the people who reported to him, he wasn’t having real conversations with he was very unhappy with their attitudes and their.

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Marc Lesser: And their productivity and and part it’s learning to be able to have genuine conversations to make real requests of other people.

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Marc Lesser: To to define what kind of workplace, do we want this to be you know and to be empowered whether you’re a CEO or whether you’re a team Member to use that power of.

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Marc Lesser: envisioning and skillfully working toward the kind of workplaces that we that we want.

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Jason Mefford: And it’s funny because.

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Jason Mefford: You know, as you were talking about, that is, is.

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Jason Mefford: Another word that comes up a lot when you’re talking about mindfulness or some of these things is being present right and so again if we think about.

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Jason Mefford: You know there’s the past there’s the present there’s the future, and you know I love that the the.

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Jason Mefford: You know, saying that the President is a gift right present and gift and English hahaha right as well, but but, just like you know you were saying with the CEO and i’ve seen this in my own life as well is.

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Jason Mefford: Sometimes in our desire to advance ourselves to move on to move up the corporate ladder whatever it is, we always have this belief that.

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Jason Mefford: When X happens then i’ll finally be happy when y happens all finally whatever right, but I know in my life.

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Jason Mefford: it’s not the case, because you get to the next point and then it’s like it keeps moving right and it’s this whole idea of can we not be.

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Jason Mefford: be grateful and present to what’s currently going on, because a lot of the lot of the other issues, the anxiety, the fear about the future goes away when we’re in that present moment.

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Marc Lesser: Although Jason I would say it’s one of my favorite paradoxes is that so because.

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Marc Lesser: it’s not like we’re just you know, especially as leaders and business people.

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Marc Lesser: Right it’s not that we just accept what is because we need to work for change, we need to work on to you know, to build our teams to build our companies to meet goals.

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Marc Lesser: To maybe increase our own ability to have these difficult conversations or own courage, so the to me the but it starts with.

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Marc Lesser: Accepting what is seeing what is right, what actually is how am I showing up how am I not showing up what do I enjoy what don’t I enjoy what you know who, on my team is working well and who’s not so it’s there is this this seeing what is but there’s also.

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Marc Lesser: Having a clear vision of where we’re going and what we want and.

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Marc Lesser: And then it’s like then we’re always we’re always in that conundrum of were caught were caught in between, but there’s there’s some real power.

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Marc Lesser: and being able to stay with and and to skillfully move from you know where what is to toward the the things that we’re trying to create you know even as simple you know, like i’m.

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Marc Lesser: i’m i’m working on another book and and and what is is i’m not really clear about what this it’s it’s this next book is kind of it, this is a creative process this next book is emerging.

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Marc Lesser: But I just keep working on it and I know I know that.

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Marc Lesser: By staying with the discomfort of not quite knowing what it is and to keep writing and visualizing and, for me it helps to actually bring other people in like sometimes i’ll i’ll i’ll send what i’m writing to friends to get feedback or i’ll hire an editor.

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Marc Lesser: To make it, you know which forces me to set deadlines so.

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Marc Lesser: it’s a funny and beautiful interplay you know between the the what is and what we want to be, and I think that’s such a.

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Marc Lesser: key part of being a mindful leader is being able to again and again bring attention attention to that.

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Jason Mefford: One, I think it was, I think it was something that I read from john covers, and you know about mindfulness not being judgmental right, and I know one.

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Jason Mefford: One phrase that I say to myself, all the time to try to avoid some of the judgment of what currently is right, because, like you said a lot of times we we look at what is and we play some sort of judgment on it, but instead of saying you know something like well isn’t that interesting.

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Jason Mefford: Right or just trying to do something, because, like you said this creative process you’re going through in the book right.

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Jason Mefford: isn’t it interesting how it’s unfolding and how it’s kind of coming together and you don’t know necessarily exactly what it’s going to be.

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Jason Mefford: In the future, and it’s the same way with us in life right we don’t know exactly what is going to come out, but we do the little work we do the practices we do the habits, we do the little things each day.

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Jason Mefford: And slowly we get closer and closer to wherever we’re supposed to be wherever that is yeah.

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Marc Lesser: One of the things I find myself bringing out in the business world is be curious not furious.

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Marc Lesser: That again.

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Marc Lesser: it’s you know.

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Marc Lesser: And you know anytime we’re working with other people or working with an organization where we’re going to be let down we’re going to feel annoyed things are not always going to go our way of mistakes are going to happen and.

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Marc Lesser: So, the more we can bring a sense of curiosity to eat this especially I think to.

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Marc Lesser: Things that are that are difficult this is a key I think a you know, this is, I think, where a mindful leader, a mindful attitude turns tends to turn the world upside down.

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Marc Lesser: it’s a it’s a very subtle but very different relationship with different difficulties and challenges and even with painful painful things so again making making ourselves into someone who is has the courage and the ability to see see clearly.

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Marc Lesser: Without wrote without sugarcoating and to be working toward.

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Marc Lesser: You know emotional freedom and and material and material effectiveness yeah.

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Jason Mefford: Well markets it’s it’s been great talking to you like, I said I mean we could, these are all huge huge topics right.

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Jason Mefford: About for.

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Jason Mefford: For a long, long time, but you know again wanted to kind of get some some stuff out there for people to start thinking about.

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Jason Mefford: You know and that’s.

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it’s.

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Jason Mefford: yeah I mean it’s it’s it’s big stuff be curious not furious I love that.

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Jason Mefford: You know the whole idea of it it’s okay to be to be a nice guy as a leader to write and to be kind and to be compassionate and a lot of these things that were taught.

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Marc Lesser: and strong and strong and fierce.

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Jason Mefford: And yeah they can all go together right, in fact I know a lot of times, people are like Oh, you know well that was weak.

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Jason Mefford: it’s like are you kidding me to be courageous and to put yourself out there is one of the hardest things to do that takes more courage.

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Jason Mefford: than going along to get along or not saying anything at all right, and I think I think again, as we talked about you know people are waking up, and I think we’re starting to understand this more.

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Jason Mefford: In realize this is this is where we have to go, because if we’re going to you know become emotionally free and and remove some of the suffering.

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Jason Mefford: That we’re all feeling as humans we’ve got to get more in touch with us and become more humanized in what we’re what we’re actually doing right get to the harmfulness.

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Jason Mefford: side of it, so I guess any any last words for you to you know kind of sign off and and to make sure that you know the listeners here before we shut down today.

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Marc Lesser: No, I think I think it’s some way.

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Marc Lesser: To spin a great conversation I appreciate it, thank you.

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Marc Lesser: yeah I think.

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Marc Lesser: I think this.

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Marc Lesser: cultivating.

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Marc Lesser: great confidence and great humility, you know just being just being a human being is very humbling being a leader is can be very, very humbling but also to find a sense of real real confidence, confidence in I think in for all of us in our ability to.

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Marc Lesser: to grow and change and solve real real problems.

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Jason Mefford: Solving real problems like you said I think that’s really what leadership is all about right yeah and enough of the superficial stuff on the top let’s actually.

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Jason Mefford: get down dig a little deeper, and you know really help expand people and help people so mark thanks thanks for coming on again.

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Jason Mefford: You know he’s got seven practices of mindful leader sounds like there’s going to be a new book coming out here in a little bit as well, too, and I know you do actually have a training course on this as well, so i’ve read the book and partway through the training course as well, so.

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Jason Mefford: I really appreciate you taking the time today and, like I said, for all the all the stuff and all the people that you’re helping.

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Marc Lesser: Okay everything’s.

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Marc Lesser: Good work you’re doing.

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Jason Mefford: Thank you.

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