Intentionality Starts with Breathing

Three simple words, three simple actions, one game changer. I recently read the book “Pause Breathe Smile” by Gary Gach. The core focus of the book deals with intentionality. To stop and focus, even just for a moment, on your breathing. It sounds simple enough but in the crazy world of notifications and their accompanying questions popping up all day long, it is easy to let our lizard brain take over and handle the automatic part of breathing for us.

You may be writing me off as a hippy at this point, but please keep reading. This is more of a mindset change than meditation practice. It starts with the simple act of paying attention to your breath and then expanding that scope to ultimately cover each action you are doing.

I know we have all sent an email to the wrong person (I can’t be the only one). We have all signed off on a project only to later find a looming error. Taking the time to be intentional in each of our actions can fix the vast majority of these mistakes that lessen our quality and cause unnecessary stress. But with only so much time in a day, it is important to curb the amount of time spent on mistakes by catching them before they make their way into your projects.

When it comes to serving our members, what if we took the time to intentionally ask each one what is going on in their life and intentionally listen to the answer? There are undoubtedly problems that each member is facing and if we take the time to listen to their story we can find relevant ways to help them. I believe that is why most credit union people show up to work each day, to help change lives. We are missing out on opportunities by rushing through transactions to get through to the next person in line. This is a change in the way we do things and change is always scary, but helping one member with a solution instead of just a transaction may reduce the need to go chasing after new members. That member will most likely tell others about their experience because it will be DIFFERENT.

For those of us not serving on the front line, we can take the same practice and serve our team members intentionally. If we put down our phone during the meeting and listen to our co-workers, we can potentially make changes that will serve our members and team members more efficiently. Working on a project as if it is the only thing on your plate will have a bigger impact than just checking the boxes.

You don’t have to go full zen, but I do encourage you to give it a shot. Start with just one moment this morning over your coffee. Pause everything that you are doing. Focus on the in and out of your breath. Smile, because life is good. Now focus on just what you are doing and chuck the running to-do list in the back of your mind. It is a process, not an instant change. For me, it helps me feel proud of my work and is something I will have to keep practicing the rest of my life.

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