Personal Growth and Leadership: Interpersonal Communication with Mindfulness into Action

Personal Growth and Leadership: Interpersonal Communication with Mindfulness into Action

Mariana I. Vergara Esquivel, Carl D. Brustad Tjernstad, Adam Mac Quarrie, Mariana I. Tamariz
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1049-9.ch036
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In this study, in order to facilitate personal growth in participants, we are using Vygotsky's social development theory. We would like to explore the personal growth in participants by their apparent cognitive transformational experience over a period of four weeks after the implementation of an intervention called Mindfulness into Action (MIA). This study is a continuation of previous research done with the implementation of this methodology (Vergara, 2016a). In this study, the MIA intervention was done at three universities at the same time. In two of them, the MIA methodology was done as a volunteer basis at the University del Norte in Ecuador and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. On the other hand, at Columbia University, the MIA methodology was implemented as an action research course for masters and doctoral students. In all interventions, participants achieved what is identified as “the third head” (Vergara, Wallace, Du, Marsick, Yorks, & Tamariz, 2016b). Our research question is: How can indigenous knowledge, hourly reflection exercises, and weekly meetings, help facilitate harmony within participants? The research methodology we used to analyze the data from this action research is grounded theory. Through first and second level coding, we found that participants went through the same intra-subjective, inter-subjective, intra-objective, inter-objective dimensions (Vergara, Wallace, Du, Marsick, Yorks, & Tamariz, 2016d) and phases. The initial “reactive” state in phase one had unknown characteristics to participants who were just reacting to everyday life experiences. In phase two, participants became aware of their behaviors, but could not stop non-beneficial behaviors. In phase three, they could observe their unknown behaviors and then change their sabotaging behaviors. Other salient characteristics from phase three were love, harmony and appreciation, which are new themes that were found in this research. In the conclusion, we describe how there is a tendency to believe that change does not come easily, especially for adults, because our mental models rule our lives (subconsciously). However, in this study participants were all adults who observed their unknown assumptions (observing behaviors that were sabotaging their efforts to succeed in life) who also reported change in their lives and in perceptions of their world. The researchers implemented the MIA methodology by following its procedure (Vergara, 2016a). This shows the sustainability of the MIA methodology, as all participants were able to achieve the “third head”. In addition, during the implementation of the MIA methodology in the action research course at Columbia University, participants achieved the “third head” in person and online. Since participants were able to achieve the “third head” online this has expanded the possibilities to implement MIA globally.
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Mindfulness into Action (MIA) is a methodology for developing leadership skills through indigenous knowledge and organizational learning techniques (Vergara, Wallace, Du, Marsick, Yorks, & Tamariz, 2016b). Participants become more aware of their unconscious behaviors, more in tune with other people, and increasingly skillful in engaging in conscious and intentional action. Participants develop the ability to connect with their thoughts, emotions, and hearts in ways that enable them to counteract the negative effects of stress, dissonance, and self-limiting beliefs. They learn to nurture the development of harmonious, sustainable, and healthy relationships in communities and organizations (Vergara, Wallace, Mewani, Reyes, Marsick, Yorks, & Tamariz, 2016c). Participants can achieve a new awareness that is vital in cross-cultural interactions; they can become what Boyatzis and Mckee (2005) refer to as resonant leaders. According to Vergara (2016a), a participant’s achievement of the “third head” is the most prominent characteristic of the MIA methodology. The “third head” is described as a state of neutrality/harmony where the participant is able to “take a step back” and observe thoughts and emotions before taking action. This study is an attempted replication of a previous Mindfulness into Action study (Vergara, 2016a).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Unknown Behaviors: Behaviors that are embedded in our subconscious that associated with the fundamental way of thinking and perceiving the social process in various social settings.

Innovation: Application of optimal solutions that meet requirements and collaborative ventures in corporate and entrepreneurial worlds.

Mindset: Set of beliefs about intellectual abilities; regardless people may differ in their current skills levels but improve potential ability.

Transformational Leadership: Leadership approach that causes participants to become more present and gain the growing self-awareness and inner transformation.

Mindfulness: Being awake and aware of the social setting. In the leadership management context, mindfulness enables leaders to interrupt the vicious cycles of sacrifice, stress and dissonance.

Indigenous Knowledge: Knowledge that involves an intimate relationship with the belief systems and that has been accumulated through a long series of observations transmitted from generation to generation.

Sustainability: Capacity to endure and how biological systems remain diverse and productive indefinitely.

Reflectivity: Decisive evidence for the capacity of humans to engage in self-conscious inquiry into their own conditions.

Action Research: Research initiated to solve an immediate problem or a reflective process of progressive problem solving led by individual.

Peace: Freedom out of disturbances that is serving as a mean to obtain verbal consensus.

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