A mantra is a religious or mystical syllable or poem, its origin is in Sanskrit. It's a verbal formula containing mystical properties. The mind being as powerful as it is - even as modern science still has not found exactly where it resides in the brain - it wins over matter. Mantras can be used in many ways to focus your attention and intention, in a personal way.
- Instead of a mission statement to infuse power and emotion in your team. Guy Kawasaki gives a few examples of the differences in his book, The Art of the Start. For example, the Red Cross mission statement is "To help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies." His hypothetical mantra is "Stop suffering." Used this way, the mantra is an internal verbal formula. Nike's mantra, "Authentic athletic performance" is quite different from its external tagline, "Just do it.", which is a guide for customers on how to use its products.
- As a positive reinforcement to focus on your personal goals. Leo Babauta shares an example of how he has used a mantra during a marathon to help set his own pace. This specific Zen Habit of his will come in handy for me this year during this year's Broad Street Run. I'm liking his "Liberate yourself" a lot as well. One that I use often is "Blame no one. Expert Nothing. Do something." It works like a charm.
- For inspiration to replenish your energies. Thomas Crum in Journey to Center talks about how center is not a place. It's a state of being where decisions are known, not made. One of my favorite quotes of his is: "To center is to relax the tight fist of clinging. Into the open hand falls freedom." I tend to rally around passion: "experience teaches us in a thousand years what passion gives us in an hour."
- As a reminder that kindness is a demonstration of leadership especially when under duress. Audrey Hepburn said that "people, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone." It's easy to forget that others cross your path as you steamroll towards your goals. There's an old Italian proverb I use that says, "when you're in a hurry, slow down."
- In grounding to some simple truths we all share. To be human is to be reasoned, purposeful, emotional, languaged, time bound, and mortal. For example, we are all seeking to be happy and find meaning in our own ways. The most direct path to making a connection is to acknowledge this simple truth. Extrapolating this for marketing, we could use the ideas put forth by Seth Godin that people take action (mostly) based on three emotions: fear, hope, and love.
- As a way of reaching stillness and concentration. In a post last year about the sound of silence, I gave a few examples of how silence and stillness have a place. Silence as pause is a wonderful tool to take stock of where you are in a project, or to grab the audience attention during a presentation. Oliver Wendell Holmes said "Silence comes to heal the blows of sound." It makes for a magnificent contrast to busyness for its own sake.
- For the creation of a scientific formula that can capture the complexity of a model. I bet you would have not thought of this one. Mantras are perfect for the scientific mind. Aren't formulas types of mantras? Albert Einstein explains the theory of relativity in several chapters of his book Out of my Later Years. Although the explanation is very comprehensible, I prefer to remember the formula - it stands for what it represents.
- Instead of a to do list to reach clarity about direction. It's quite easy to get caught in the excitement of a new idea and begin writing down tactics before fleshing out a strategy. Alas, this path is more and more common in business today. Before we all roll up our execution sleeves and get busy doing, it pays off to distill with absolute clarity where we're going.
- As a method to separate your vision from someone else's. The best way to stay the course in projects as in life is to own your own vision or reason why you are involved. Many of us have mentors and people we look up to. The best contribution we can make to our work is from a personal stance - in how we translate what we hear and see through the filter of our originality and experience. Greatness by definition is inimitable. When we stay disciplined in this, we build confidence in ourselves and that of others in us.
- For listening to your own heart and mind. If we do a poor job of listening to others on occasion, we often do ourselves a disservice by not listening to our bodies, minds, and spirit. Inventing a simple mantra to help us evaluate what we are experiencing and feeling goes a long way in making us more present to what happens around us in an authentic way. Even as we look at conversation as connection, the first connection we need to make is to our self.
- In attracting what you welcome to your life right now. Wherever you focus your attention, that is what you're going to get. Mantras defeat thinking and they will be quite helpful to you in separating what you think you know about your reality, and what you can help manifest in your life. This is valid for business as well. How many companies spend their days on the treadmill of what used to work? High performance is by design.
- As a way to expose the essential emptiness of words. With all this talk about participation and conversation, it is good to be mindful that sometimes actions speak louder than words. Although often declaring you are going to do something publicly can help keep you on track with actually doing it, the resolution and resilience you may need to pull through are built first in your mind.
This also celebrates my 500th post. Do you use mantras? Do you think a mantra would work for you?
[image by BURNBLUE]