It’s hard to play favorites in a podcast—we’ve loved all of our conversations thus far—but this episode was a special one, as it touched upon a leadership quality we’ve had a hard time pinpointing: the ability of leaders to make their athletes feel understood and accepted as individuals, while STILL leading them down a prescribed pathway to success.

The answer has proven complicated and multivalent, but a key component seems to be bringing mindfulness into one’s leadership strategies.

Dr. Ben Merkling is a sport psychologist with a research interest in mindfulness practice, and its application to sport and leadership settings.   This week, he sits down with David to discuss how mindfulness can contribute to team culture, effective coaching, and personal and professional wellbeing.

More on Dr. Merkling

“The research on mindfulness shows that it builds resilience.  What coach doesn’t want that?  It decreases stress.  It increases a sense of overall well-being.  It improves mood.  It’s a highly recommended treatment for depression and anxiety.  It increases clarity and focus, the ability to tolerate uncertainty.  The benefits are endless.  One way to create some buy-in with coaches is to just show them what it can do.”

– Dr. Ben Merkling

Episode Highlights:

– The impact of mindfulness on communication

– Mindfulness and team culture

– The benefit of openness and acceptance on team relationships

– Mindfulness and adversity

– Contending with the athlete and the person

– How mindfulness works and what it provides

– Getting started with mindfulness

– Managing distractions, stress, and unanticipated challenges

– Balancing acceptance with team strategies and goals

– Mindfulness as a tool to increase resiliency and decrease stress

– The potential for coaches to push harder and further through mindful leadership

– The detriments of a full mind

– Letting go of the uncontrollables

– Creating psychological flexibility

– Technology’s role in distraction and mindlessness

– Mindfulness routines