Post image for What Is Mindful Leadership Anyway?

It seems this post is overdue.

For years I’ve been touting “mindful leadership” as the intersection of career advancement and personal fulfillment – and yet a lot of folks have no idea what I’m talking about.

I’ve heard you – and so I’d like to take this opportunity to go back to the beginning.

The very beginning.

As in, let’s start by defining mindfulness, shall we?

Mindfulness is the ability to pay complete attention in the present moment, seeing things without judgment as they are and not as you want them to be.

In other words, when you can come to a place of acceptance that, no, he’s not coming back or, yes, you did just receive that diagnosis, you can get out of the mental snow globe surrounding WHY it happened and turn your attention to what needs to happen.

This is typically where people get confused.

They think mindfulness is trying to “make” something happen or achieving a mental state of perfect peace.

Not true.

Mindfulness isn’t about trying accomplish anything other than an extremely heightened state of awareness.

Because when you act out of awareness, you stop living on autopilot reacting to triggers all day, and start choosing who you want to be in each moment.

Intentional, eyes-wide-open, choice.

Of course, taking ownership of this choice is where leadership comes in.

Because while awareness is always the first step, sometimes even that’s not enough. Take my eating disorder in college for example. I knew exactly what I was doing – the problem was I didn’t know how to stop.

This is why “leadership” in the context of mindfulness simply means choosing wisely.

In addition, I think it’s also important to note that, traditionally, leadership has been defined as setting a vision and inspiring others to help achieve it.

As a result, we’re conditioned to think of leadership through the prism of followers.

In the (true) practice of mindfulness, you’re not really concerned with externals like this.

In mindfulness, your concern is getting to the root of your thoughts, your perceptions, and your actions.

I know that sounds a bit selfish and neurotic until you consider the end result is actually the most generous, extraordinary gift you could give someone else.

I mean, think about being a mother.

Apart from good health, wouldn’t your completeness, serene manner, character, wise actions, and compassion be the very best blessing a child could have?

Same thing in leadership.

Your wholeness shows others what is possible for themselves.

And, believe me, if you don’t feel even remotely close to “whole”, you’re missing out.

I know because I’ve been on both sides of the fence.

I’ve lived in “the snow globe mind” but I’m happy to say that – through years of research, practice, and working with the right mentors – I not only have the tools to choose differently… I have the blessing of sharing them with you.

So now it’s your turn to choose.

If you want a deeper dive into how you can apply these tools to your own life, Ready To Lead: Mindful Wisdom @ Work starts Monday.

I have to warn you, though, this isn’t a typical executive leadership class.

To put it bluntly, I don’t care about your to do list.

I care about your to be list.

I care about whether you wake up each morning taking ownership of how you show up in the world and inspired to be of service to those around you.  

That’s what wakes me up in the morning.

And, by the way, that’s mindful leadership.


Post image for Perfect is Inauthentic and Unsustainable

As someone who teaches emotional control, I have to admit it was embarrassing to be hiding out in an Embassy Suites bathroom trying to pull myself together.

Especially since just moments earlier I had breezily walked onstage in front of a crowd of 30+ fellow entrepreneurs assuming that being in the “hot seat” (as it was called) answering questions about my company would be a piece of cake.

After all, I had flown 3,000 miles to participate in this business mastermind and I was ready – or so I thought.

“Ok Emily,” said Facebook marketing priestess Amy Porterfield. “Tell us what you do.”

I knew this question was coming and I had been advised to keep my response relevant and pithy.

“I teach mindful leadership to professional women, which means I help them advance in their career while enjoying the journey at the same time.”

“How?” said Amy.

“Three ways mainly: Quieting the monkey mind, learning to get along with others, and finding joy in everyday living.”

I looked out into a crowd of faces, many of whom were nodding politely but I could tell they weren’t overly impressed.

“What’s the pain point of your audience?” Amy continued.

“They’re stressed and overwhelmed which causes them to react instead of respond – that behavior ripples out into damaged relationships, which only causes more stress.”

“Got it. So what’s your biggest business challenge?”

I was prepared for this one too.

“List building. My email subscribers are engaged but not growing as fast as I’d like.”

In that moment, a hand shot up from a woman sitting in the front.

“I think it’s your messaging,” she said. “The audience you’re trying to reach is too busy to even know they need you.”

The collective and loud “amen” in the room told me she had just articulated what everyone else was thinking.

After that it was open season.

One by one – always politely, but firmly – my entrepreneurial peers told me my problem wasn’t list-building at all – it was branding.

“No one knows what mindful leadership is.”

“You’re a few years ahead of the curve, honey.”

“You’re offering meditation as your email opt-in offer!? Executive women don’t meditate!”

It was at least the third time I’d been delivered a “you’re-doing-it-wrong” blow in a “just-being-honest” way – but this time proved to be too much.

After I left the stage – with the crowd’s parting words of “Sell them what they want, then give them what they need” – still ringing in my head, I was shown the website of a 7-figure online entrepreneur with a mailing list in the tens of thousands.

“Look at her home page,” said a fellow masterminder. “See how her whole design is about getting you to sign up for her list?”

As I looked at the page – a pretty woman in a tight dress pointing to an opt-in box – my heart sank.

“Not me,” I thought, and I excused myself to the restroom where I proceeded to hide in a stall.

It wasn’t an ugly cry, but it was the tears that come at the intersection of frustration and confusion, i.e. that moment where you know something is broken but you’re not quite sure how to fix it. You also know that “fixing it” – whatever that means – is going to take a lot of work and will certainly expose the fact that you’re not always 100% sure of what you’re doing.

My colleague Kathryn Minshew, CEO of career website The Muse, said recently that “It’s easier to pretend you’re crushing it than to admit you’re a work in progress.”

One quick pop-in at a networking reception or scroll through Instagram is all it takes to know she’s right.

The world is full of manufactured perfection.

Honestly, I’m not interested in pretending to crush it because I’m not interested in pretending about anything.

“Fake it ‘til you make it?”

No thanks.

You know what I’d love to see?

I’d love to see some honesty – raw, real, honesty – about the fact that there are “messy middles” in life.

To me, that is leadership.

Because if you’re “pretending to crush it” all the time, you’re robbing your people of something even more inspiring, which is seeing you stumble – and then getting back up.

So….whether I listen to my well-meaning friends in the mastermind and shake up my business is to be determined.

Frankly, I don’t know what the end game looks like.

But I do know one thing.

Whatever it is, I’ll still be here.

Imperfect, but standing.


Post image for Ready To Lead Enrollment is OPEN

Yesterday I hosted a webinar called Authentic Power: Cultivating the Six Pillars of Presence. Here’s the replay if you’d like to check it out.

In the training, I spoke about the fact that authentic power isn’t something we have to “find.” We all have an infinite source of power – the trick is learning how to tap into it.

When the webinar ended, I received an email from a woman struggling to do just that. The following is an excerpt:

Although I consider myself fairly mindful, last week I was unable to engage the skills completely.  I had to let someone go – which, unfortunately, I have plenty of experience with – and for some reason I lost my center… What was most frustrating is having the emotions, seeing it happen, and not being able to stop it… In the moment I did think of you, consciously tried to be mindful so in that I’m thankful! But I find that I struggle with confrontation – and that is where I need to figure out how to use mindfulness.

Can you relate?

We all have moments that knock us off center, which is why we need real tools to lean on when things don’t go as planned – tools that can get us back “in the zone” of who we’re here to be.

This is why I’m thrilled to announce that enrollment is now open for my group coaching program, Ready To Lead: Mindful Wisdom @ Work, beginning July 7th.

Ready To Lead is an exclusive opportunity to join me and other conscious-career women for a month-long journey into mindfulness and how this 2,600-year-old practice can expand your leadership skills and presence today.


If you’ve been part of this community for a while, you know I don’t offer a bunch of different programs. This one is my signature event and it’s the culmination of years of extensive study in the field of mindfulness, pulling out only the best and most relevant information for business leaders.

Also, because everyone loves a deal, I’m offering $50 off Ready To Lead registration from now until Friday at 5pmEST. To take advantage of this discounted rate, all you have to do is enter the promo code “earlybird” (all lowercase) at checkout.

When you join Ready To Lead, here’s what you’ll receive:

-          Four weeks of mindfulness training and group coaching directly from me and my co-facilitator Debra Hickok that will help you maintain a composed presence through any and all of life’s challenges.

-          Weekly coaching calls where Debra and I will answer your questions live.

-          Access to a private membership site where you can engage with us and network with other mindful women leaders.

-          A full three months of post-course follow-up where you’ll receive a Mindful Leadership Checklist, a 2015 Digital Career Planner, and a few other surprises designed to keep you on track with your course tools.

One caveat: To ensure Debra and I are able to deep-dive into YOUR specific mindfulness and career concerns, there are a limited number of spaces available – so if you’d like to join us don’t wait.


I hope to see you in class,


P.S. Traveling in July? No worries. You can download course materials at any time, plus we’ll also keep the membership site live for three extra months so you’ll have plenty of time to catch up on anything you missed. :)