Laurie J. Cameron

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The Mindful Day: Cultivating Focus, Calm and Joy

With her new National Geographic book, mindfulness and leadership expert Laurie Cameron has created the ultimate how-to guide for optimizing performance, relationships and well-being

We know that the world is changing rapidly, from broad global trends that are disrupting business models to the more immediate space around our day-to-day lives. Matching the unprecedented pace of change in technologies, the options available to us to meet our needs and pursue our goals are accelerating and are uncertain. This is the paradox: the world changes dramatically, yet our basic needs as leaders, as humans, not so much. We are caught between hyper-connection and loss of connection, the desire for immediate access to everything and the longing for caring and real joy. We struggle to keep clear, focused and present in the very world we have created and continue to create.

We can feel the tension in multiple dimensions – the sense of expansive options and limited time, the sense of missing out or wasting effort, the excitement of new models and the unease of wondering about the impact on our businesses, our people and our communities. Time spans are shrinking – what used to take decades now takes years, what took months takes days, what took days can happen in minutes.

We experience these shifts externally, in the world and in our professions, but also internally. With the accelerated pace of life what it takes to succeed has changed. Experience and education used to be relevant and applicable for a career. Now, abilities like focus, self-awareness, compassion and creativity are more important.

To adapt to the pressures and stress of a new, modern world, leaders are turning to old, established practices, and the research is providing evidence of their power. Mindfulness and compassion practices in the workplace are providing an antidote to the overwhelm and stress, and strengthening resilience, performance, and well-being.

Scientists know that the mind is trainable, and we can tame our turbulent minds and boost our emotional intelligence. Yet many decision makers avoid making this first, most basic, decision. Perhaps they feel that they just don’t have time for one more thing in their lives. Maybe they think that a calm mind and compassionate approach is an impossibility for leaders in business today. Or — in some corporate cultures — maybe they wear their frenetic lifestyle as a badge of honor, the business equivalent of a purple heart.

Laurie J. Cameron is on a mission to change that perception with her new book “The Mindful Day: Practical Ways to Find Focus, Calm, and Joy From Morning to Evening” (March 27, 2018). Written to connect with rookies and veterans both new and experienced with mindfulness, Cameron’s book uses stories and science to teach professionals how to reduce stress, gain productivity, strengthen relationships, and optimize the life and path they are on right now.

Optimizing performance through mindfulness

When National Geographic needed a vigorously scientific, research-backed guide to mindfulness, they chose Cameron to write it. A veteran corporate leadership and organizational development consultant, she’s spent 25 years consulting with hard-driving professionals at Fortune 500 companies, helping them understand how people best learn, grow, change and thrive.

Cameron has practiced mindfulness for 23 years in the tradition of Buddhist monk, peace activist and global spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh, who gave her the name Fresh Lovingkindness of the Heart. The name belies her clear, direct, and empathetic teaching style, which bridges neuroscience and the world of work. Drawing on her experience as a business executive and entrepreneur, she specializes in helping corporations, organizations and government agencies optimize sustained performance and well-being.

It is not about “checking out” or taking the slow road. It is about checking in with yourself in real-time, connecting to the flow and energy of ideas, people and change, to learn new strokes, new habits, new mindsets – to transform how you relate to yourself and others. It is about moving with purpose and being choiceful and wise, to successfully and sustainably live and work.

“A recent meta-analysis of the scientific research on mindfulness in the workplace summaries the outcomes in three areas: performance, relationships and well-being,” Cameron notes, “and it is what I have experienced training leaders around the world in applying mindfulness strategies to how they lead. It really changes how we communicate, how we show up, how we relate, solve problems and resolve conflict and generate breakthrough ideas.”

“I encourage leaders to adapt their own version of our model of a Mindful Leader. They learn how to treat themselves and their workforce with care and compassion. When we are cared for, we are happier, more collaborative and more productive. It is the key to unlocking human potential.”

A case study of the art and practice of mindfulness in everyday life

In “The Mindful Day,” Cameron reveals the mindsets, structures and practices leaders can use throughout each day to stay connected with themselves, others and the purpose that brings focus, calm and joy to everyday life.

National Geographic calls the book a “guide to living with focus, clarity and intention in a high-tech, fast-paced world,” filled with “simple steps for navigating busy schedules, difficult emotions and important relationships with purpose, compassion and skill.”

Starting with the moment you wake up, Cameron walks through a typical day, offering evidence-based mindful practices that promote calm, concentration and connection in any situation. Fifty chapters provide easy-to-follow strategies for better living, including how to:

Wake up to joy
Create a morning routine
Set intentions
Transform your commute
Focus your wandering mind
Banish multitasking
Create something
See your loved ones with fresh eyes
Transition peacefully from day to evening
Ease into sleep

Bolstered by the latest research in neuroscience and evolutionary biology, Cameron’s book makes it clear that we all have the capacity to adapt to consistently meet the complex demands of leadership with less stress, greater confidence and more focus, connection and joy.

Some Topics Laurie J. Cameron Can Discuss

– How to create a mindful workplace and a mindfulness path to innovation in business, and how to build a connected team that’s open, empathetic and focused, and that takes risks. Tying in research from Google on the secrets to top teams, Laurie can discuss how mindfulness and empathy fuel workplace performance.

– How having purpose and meaning at work and in life is a key to sustainable happiness.

– The connection between mindfulness and resilience. By virtue of their position, leaders must constantly “bounce back” from unforeseen challenges and setbacks that are often out of their control. Mindfulness in the face of adversity enables leaders to stay resilient and shape their own narrative from an empowered, purposeful frame, rather than acting from autopilot or other people’s narratives.

– The unique challenges made by today’s work environment on female leaders, and how those challenges can be most effectively met by becoming a “peace warrior.”

– How mindfulness benefits female workers, from the executive suite to the front lines. No matter what your role is, we are all leading and influencing, and mindfulness can strengthen our productivity and effectiveness. By increasing self-awareness we can become more confident and efficient, letting internal calm generate external power; this is a foundational skill for warriors.

– How to engage difficult conversations with greater ease and better outcomes.

– Strategies and techniques to tame a turbulent mind.

– The power of kindness and compassion at work — how getting along with peers, clients and even competitors creates success.

– How to find similarities and common ground in a world that’s divided and exhausted by division.

– How to manage the emotions executives wrestle — like fear of failure, decision fatigue, or isolation from colleagues — by shifting your mental state towards greater connection, possibility, and joy.

– How to navigate uncertainty and change using the power of internal narrative: how we relate to our experiences, explain our story to ourselves, and make meaning of events.

– The power of shifting from fear and frustration to gratitude and generosity.

As founder of the leadership and organizational development firm PurposeBlue, Cameron speaks internationally to companies about mindfulness and compassion in the workplace. She is a master teacher with Search Inside Yourself (a leadership institute born at Google), a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Advancement of Well-being at George Mason University, and a professor of Mindful Leadership at the RH Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.

A consultant to corporations such as Deloitte, Capital One and Aspen Leadership Institute, Cameron celebrated her birthday at Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village monastery in Southern France. Her 13-year-old daughter can be seen holding the Zen master’s hand in the new documentary Walk With Me. Yet she teaches that being mindful does not require long retreats to faraway places. Instead, it’s about adopting internal and cultural structures, habits and conditions to create a mindful day in the life you have now.

“My mission is to reduce emotional suffering — the overwhelm, the stress, the disconnection, disengagement and isolation that is prevalent in our modern world — and elevate peace and joy,” Cameron says. “We can cultivate the innate capacities of our mind: curiosity, compassion and creativity and approach everyday situations with greater presence and ease. The message is that mindfulness for you is doable.”

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