For a founder, cultivating inner wisdom is a key step in preparing yourself for growth and scale, and ensuring your company stays aligned with its true north. And yes, years on Planet Earth, along with failures and life lessons, contribute to that.
In addition to just being alive, however, there are other methods you can use to develop your inner wisdom, giving you the power to leverage it when most needed. These practices have been used in cultures around the globe since culture itself began, so their methods are tried and true, but they are just that — practices. A bit of consistency and effort will pay big dividends in the long term.
In case you’ve fallen out of practice, or haven’t begun your own development practice yet, here are 3 suggestions to help cultivate and access your inner knowing:
Meditation has been relied upon for centuries upon centuries to quiet the mind and allow one to connect with one’s inner voice. Over time, and with consistency, you’ll find your reactions to stressful situations change, giving you the power to observe a situation without being pulled into it. This might be one of your most important tools as a founder, because it will enhance your ability to remain mindful and present amidst chaos.
The technique is quite simple, and also extremely challenging: Find a quiet place to sit, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. When thoughts arise, simply observe them without judgment, and keep returning to your breath. Even 10 minutes a day of this will make a difference.
To help with the process, we are huge fans of the Calm app, particularly because it has a daily practice, bedtime stories, and soothing background noises from fireplaces to chirping birds. To see what might work best for you, the NY Times has reviewed Calm and 2 other apps (including a free one) that can help you with the process:
In situations of rapid change and high stress, it helps to keep your brain empty of swirling thoughts so you have room to manage what’s in front of you. Writing down those thoughts and feelings can help quiet the noise and give you space to work out problems and ideas on paper, instead of having them clog your mental space.
Given the amount of time we spend on screens, we prefer the tactile joy of putting pen to paper for this exercise (studies suggest this powerfully activates your brain). If you love a Google doc or Notion better, use whatever is most comfortable for you. Jennifer has a collection of notebooks, and she’ll spend a few minutes over morning coffee with pen and Moleskine, blurting out whatever is on her mind that day.
Ideally, try to set aside time each day to write without judgment or censorship, and if you do this exercise in the morning, it creates a clean slate for you to kick off the rest of the day. Best of all, once your thoughts or worries are on paper and out of your head, your brain will quietly get to work on solutions in the background.
Spending time alone can be pivotal to your big thinking and problem solving. Every founder who comes through IMPERIA is developed to carve out this time, because without it you’re basically surviving like an amoeba reacting to the world around you. Quiet time replenishes your energy and gives you space to look at things from 40,000 feet, as well as at ground level.
Find a quiet place where you can be alone with your thoughts and feelings, and allow yourself to simply be. If you’re stuck on a problem, take a walk in a park or your neighborhood, because the action of movement gives your brain room to work on the problem in the background. The New Yorker published an article about the science of walking and thinking many moons ago, if you want a deeper look.
Whatever methods you choose to develop and leverage your inner wisdom, remember to be patient with yourself through the process. It takes time to quiet that big, beautiful brain of yours and give it room to develop said wisdom, which comes from connecting dots and analyzing the big picture. Future You will thank Current You profusely for the effort you make now.
Global Round-Up is our Friday collection of interesting tidbits and tools from around the globe, curated to support women founders as they scale their ideas.