What Mindful Leadership Looks Like

It’s the end of the year and so, by tradition, it’s time for news outlets to break out the lists.

This one, 10 Women Who Shaped 2013, caught my attention – not because of who made it (as all are deserving) – but because of who didn’t.

Antionette Tuff.

As you may recall, on August 20th of this year, in a scene that has become tragically familiar, a deranged gunman entered a school.

Fortunately for everyone, he was greeted by Tuff, who lovingly and empathetically pleaded with him to give up his weapons and turn himself over to police.

No screaming.

No panicking.

No judgment or blame.

In fact, for more than 20 minutes Tuff calmly – respectfully even – assured the gunman that “everything is okay.”

I suppose this is where I should mention he had 500 rounds of ammunition and there were 800+ children inside the school. 


And yet when Tuff was interviewed afterward about how she maintained such admirable composure under such extreme circumstances, she said she was practicing what her pastor called “anchoring.”

In Tuff’s words, she was grounding first and foremost in her own strength and then allowing compassion to guide her behavior in every moment.

Sounds vaguely familiar.

Hmmm….what do we call that thing?

Oh right! Mindful leadership.

Anchoring, mindful leadership, inner guidance…we’re all talking about the same thing here, i.e. a deeply-infused sense who you are, what values you serve, and why.

When you have it, you have the ability to move through all of life – catastrophes included – with grace.

And when you don’t, the ensuing discontent translates into an insecurity that others can sniff immediately.

What I love about women like Tuff is they remind us of how powerful we can be when anchored – even in moments that seem beyond vulnerable.

They remind us that – regardless of what’s happening on the outside – allowing it creates space to respond skillfully.


And when we are able respond this way, guess what?




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