This quote by Mother Theresa is one of my daily mantras. It helps me acknowledge that I’m not trying to create world change every day, I’m just trying to do the best that I can with what I have. As a yogi and Square Root’s resident meditation leader, I am constantly working on techniques to stay grounded and focused while moving forward. Whether it’s taking walks around West 6th Street or meditating on the patio, I find ways to re-center throughout the day. These mental breaks remind me to be mindful and help me achieve flow.
Flow is defined in positive psychology as feeling fully immersed in an activity with extreme focus and enjoyment. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what you do. Achieving flow is often referred to as being in the zone.
When I interview district managers, I get a sense of the amount of disruption and chaos in their day-to-day. From being on the road 24/7, to store visits, to customer complaints, to frustrated store managers, to tons of competing corporate initiatives, to an ever-growing to-do list, to spreadsheets of data…the list goes on. In this role, flow isn’t a nice to have, it’s a necessity.
The key is to minimize the effect of disruption and chaos, and this starts with mindfulness. According to Psychology Today, mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. For a district manager, mindfulness and flow are similar to the OODA loop of decision making and in fact, can help them cycle through it faster.
- First, become aware of the situation without judgment or emotion.
- Second, gain an understanding of what is most critical to address.
- Third, decide what actions to take to address the critical issues at hand.
- Fourth, take action and observe the outcome.
When thinking about Store Relationship Management, I emphasize the relationship part. Relationships are what separate good and great district managers, and they are key to driving real change in stores, in small ways. Beyond implementing new initiatives and completing checklists, the real love and joy of a district manager’s job is working with people and making an impact. Great leadership stems from good listening, strong coaching, and truly serving their team. When district managers are mindful, they are more capable of rising above the noise and getting in the zone. This energized focus produces joy and results. As we innovate on the SRM platform, we aspire to create continuous states of flow by showing relevant information to inspire decisions and drive action; we are always thinking about what comes next. Ideally, this frees district managers to focus on what really matters – leading and developing teams.
“…It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were.” ― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
I believe that everything we do must stem from love. Managing day-to-day tactics with mindfulness while focusing on building relationships with flow is the balance that all district managers strive to achieve. It’s the difference in doing versus being. My hope is not that we try to change the world; that is a daunting task. Instead, if we all strive to do small things with great love, I think collectively, we will surpass our highest expectations.
Interested in how Store Relationship Management can help your district managers focus on building relationships while improving performance? Read more about our comprehensive platform now.
Image Source: Jan Kleingeld, Copyright 2002