Robert Stembridge, Managing Director of Accenture Technology, came to a clear realisation: his brain was always full. Moreover, he realised he had taken it for granted that it had to be that way. Robert’s case is not unique — in fact, it might apply to you too. We are all living lives that are highly pressured. We are always on, overloaded with information, and easily distracted.

In managing a global team and delivering highly complex solutions to clients in an ever-changing industry, Robert realised a clear and focused mind might be the competitive advantage that would set him and his teams ahead of competitors. Robert decided to pursue the idea and found a way that brought himself and his people one second ahead of the busyness of business. Mindfulness was the answer.

Mindfulness has proven to be a key enabler of leadership excellence in hundreds of organisations around the world.

Google, Microsoft, Nike, SAP, and many others make use of it to harness two key qualities needed for effective leadership: focus and clarity.

Focus: Overcoming action addiction

In today’s 24/7 stream of distractions, our focus is blown to pieces. For a while, we thought multitasking was the answer, but we were wrong. Researchers are showing that multitasking is killing our focus by shrinking our prefrontal cortex.

How much is our focus suffering these days? To be specific, 46.9 per cent. This is the percentage of our waking hours that our minds are involuntarily wandering away from what we try to focus on. In other words, half of the time, we are not truly paying attention to the tasks or people in front of us.

As our focus declines, our ability to prioritise does too. We risk becoming action addicts. Action addicts are highly effective in doing a lot of things — but not necessarily the right things. We end up spinning our wheels, without truly moving anywhere.