One Second Ahead: Enhance Your Performance At Work With Mindfulness – Rasmus Hougaard

1. Introduction

Rasmus Hougaard has been a mindfulness practitioner and teacher for the last fifteen years. He has worked with big companies such as Nike, IKEA, Sony and Google. In this book, Rasmus shares how using mindfulness tactics can enhance performance in the workplace.

2. The Key Ideas Explained

Now, what does being “one second ahead” actually mean? In mindfulness, it’s about taking a step back and pausing. By taking this time, you create one second for yourself to think about what’s next, instead of instantly reacting to whatever stimulus comes your way.

Hougaard applies these mindfulness tactics so people enhance their performance at work. The book goes in depth on a lot of topics including: planning, communication, mental energy, emotional balance, pausing, etc.

I’ve chosen five topics to summarize that I believe will have the most influence on your day-to-day life. They include:

  • Goals
  • Priorities
  • Communication
  • Change
  • Creativity

Ready? Here we go.

1.GOALS

There are two types of goals because there are two types of thinking: conscious and subconscious. Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahnemann goes in depth on this in his book Thinking Fast and Slow.  If you have time, definitely worth a read.

Now, it’s important to recognize these two types of thinking when we are setting our goals. Why? Because the subconscious thinking system is the one we really need to impact if we want to keep in touch with our goals. The conscious goals on the other hand are the ones we actively think about. A great example are New Year’s resolutions. You make a resolution and a couple of weeks later, you totally forget about it. That’s because the subconscious mind didn’t really have the time to work towards the goal.

To make the subconscious mind work for you, you need to do two things. You have to make sure your goals are 1) specific and 2) state them in a positive state.

First, let’s look at an example of a negative, vague goal: “I will procrastinate less.”
When stated positive and specific, it looks like this: “I will write one book summary each month and share it on my website.”

See the difference?

BOTTOM LINE: Take your time writing down specific goals, stated in the positive and repeat them to yourself so your subconscious mind gets the message and helps you staying on course.

 

2.PRIORITIES

“Action addiction is one of the biggest threats to our mental effectiveness and productivity.”

It’s not that hard to be “busy” these days. But does being busy really lead to the best result? According to Tony Crabbe, it is clearly not. You can read the summary of his book “Busy: How To Thrive In A World Of Too Much” RIGHT HERE.

A famous principle in time management is the 80/20 or “Pareto Principle”. This principle states that 80 percent of your results comes from 20 percent of the work you put in. If we know this, we should concentrate on this 20 percent. That’s not that easy, apparently. We would rather be busy on all sorts of stuff, just for the sake of being busy. Hougaard calls this “action addiction”.

Are you an action addict? I know I can be one once in a while. Take the quick test:
Go sit at your desk and right before you turn on your computer or start working. Stop, and just sit there for 3 minutes. If you have a hard time with this, you might be suffering from the incurable decease called action addiction.

Luckily for us, Hougaard has a simple solution. This solution is breathing. Before you start on something, take some deep breaths coming from the stomach, think about what is the biggest priority and then go to work.

3.COMMUNICATION

“If communication wants to be effective, the receiver has to understand what the sender means – not just hear or read the words.”

The basic requirement for mindful communication is being present while you are in interaction with someone else. 

To listen and speak mindful, think about these two acronyms: STOP and ACT.

STOP stands for Silent, Tuned in, Open, Present. While listening to someone, it’s important to actually be listening with full attention. Be silent. Let the other person talk. Use body language to show you are tuned in. Have an open mindset. Don’t let your own values or reasons get in the way. Be present; be in the now.

ACT stands for Appropriate, Compassionate, Timing. This acronym is for when you are doing the talking. Say the right, appropriate things to the person. Think about helping the other person in a compassionate way. Think about the timing: say what has to be said, not too much, not too little.

4. CHANGE

 “Our inability to cope with change is one of the main reasons we endure pain and suffering.”

We are habitual animals. We want everything to stay more or less the same because this means we are safe. Change is a constant throughout everything, so we are constantly challenged to cope with it. If we do learn how to cope with it, the results can be less stress, better health and eventually a more positive state of mind.

How do we cope with change? There are five steps to this:

  1. Awareness of the change; simply recognize that there is change taking place.
  2. Awareness of your resistance; whenever there is change, there is resistance. This is totally normal, be aware of what kind of resistance you are having.
  3. Investigate your resistance; ask yourself: “where is this resistance coming from?” Try to analyze your resistance and try to learn from it.
  4. Mindfully choosing your response; when you understand the change you can choose to go against it, or go with it. Whatever you choose, have a clear head while making the decision.
  5. Act; now it’s time to convert your decision into something physical. Remember, this will not be simple. While trying to change behavioral patterns, there will always be some resistance. The good thing is, you can repeat these steps whenever you are confronted with change and resistance to it.

5.CREATIVITY

“Our habitual way of thinking about problems is one of the biggest barriers of being creative.”

When we are faced with something that requires us to think differently, we get stuck. Our minds wander and most of the time, we feel pressured. This leads us to thinking of solutions that are familiar. This isn’t a bad thing, but if we want creativity, we need to stimulate our minds to open up.

So, how do we do this? We take away the pressure and stop our minds from wandering of by training ourselves in mindfulness. When we do this, we get our subconscious mind to activate and stimulate creativity.

There are four steps to activating the subconscious:

  1. State the problem; like setting mindful goals to activate the subconscious, we have to state the problem in a simple and clear way for our subconscious to understand it. Write down the problem on a piece of paper.
  2. Let the problem go; after we’ve stated and wrote down the problem, it’s important to let go of it. Put away the piece of paper; give your mind some time to relax.
  3. Give yourself time; now, time will do the work for you. The problem is now being worked on in your subconscious. Take a nap, go for a run, meditate, whatever you do, give your subconscious some time to process the problem.
  4. Activate; now it’s time to let the subconscious communicate with the conscious again. Take a new sheet of paper and write down or draw the ideas that you come up with. If you feel you are still thinking about it in a habitual way, go back to step 3.

3.My Personal Opinion

Reading One Second Ahead gave me a new insight in how to deal with difficulties. Especially when it comes to problems in the workplace. I understand why Hougaard has worked for so many big organizations. Being clear minded and finding a specific focus is getting harder and harder with all the distractions in our day-to-day life. Cell phones, social media, billboards, television, the Internet. The list goes on and on. It’s easy to lose control over our mind resulting in a loss of productivity. This book gives practical tips on how to get that control back.

Overall I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to have a more relaxed mind. On the other hand, I feel like once you get the main idea of mindfulness –taking a break, breathing and pausing- you can apply this to a lot of life’s aspects and you don’t really need the specific tips and tricks that come with every chapter. Once you get the idea of mindfulness, you can apply it to almost everything. So my advice to you would be: focus on your breathing when you are feeling like your mind is racing and give meditation a try, a great app I would recommend is Headspace.

There you go. Now it’s time to go try it out.


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Dennis Arthur
Dennis Arthur lives in Ghent, Belgium. Being more introverted causes him to enjoy time by himself. Books therefore are his ideal companions. Personal development through continuous education is a value he holds high. After realizing it’s not easy for everyone to read, he now contributes to Book Success and he also has a personal blog to help everyone out there get the knowledge they seek. He graduated in Applied Psychology and is a personal trainer as well. Want to connect? Contact him through his social media!
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Dennis Arthur

About Dennis Arthur

Dennis Arthur lives in Ghent, Belgium. Being more introverted causes him to enjoy time by himself. Books therefore are his ideal companions. Personal development through continuous education is a value he holds high. After realizing it’s not easy for everyone to read, he now contributes to Book Success and he also has a personal blog to help everyone out there get the knowledge they seek. He graduated in Applied Psychology and is a personal trainer as well. Want to connect? Contact him through his social media!