May 2022 Book Review Corner

The AMCI Reading Corner is a crowdsourced resource share aimed to serve as a platform for the AMCI community to share book recommendations and reflect with personal takeaways. Starting with monthly postings, more ways to engage will be shared as the idea grows.

This month, Joe Sapp, CAE, of Talley Management Group, Inc. shares his review of One Second Ahead: Enhance your Performance at Work with Mindfulness by Rasmus Hougaard, Jacqueline Carter and Gillian Coutts.

Last year in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, I heard a colleague of mine refer to his team as having a near-constate sense of “overwhelm.” This, of course, was attributed to the disruption that was occurring both in personal lives and at work. I noticed the same within myself and my team, which led me to seek out some new resources to introduce mindfulness to my team.

My goal was to find resources that were accessible that laid out a way to develop a strategy to incorporate mindfulness and practical guidance on how to practice it. I sought resources that have helped me in the past. I wanted to find resources that helped both set a strategy for dealing with some of the ongoing disruptions and practical steps for introducing mindfulness within your work. This led me to the book One Second Ahead by Rasmus Hougaard, Jacqueline Carter, and Gillian Coutts.

What first drew me to the book was that it aimed to address what we are experiencing today, an accelerated pace of work and information overload. The book's goal is not simply to improve you at “getting things done.” It's about implementing mindfulness to work differently in a way that is more productive, focused, calm, and effective.

While this book was written before the pandemic, the author's main points of why mindfulness is essential to enhancing work performance resonate today. First, we are in a hyper attention economy, where there is no shortage of demand for our attention. Second, multitasking is a myth; the reality is that it only hinders our creativity. The overarching goal and mindfulness are to teach you to be one second ahead of that attention economy.

While we can sit back and agree that mindfulness is a good thing and we know what the most significant attention is draining for each of us, this book does shine at giving you efficient tactics to regain your focus and introduce mindfulness through various areas of your work.

While there are plenty of takeaways, I will share some of the ones that stood out the most to me:

  • Two rules for mental effectiveness – focus on what you choose and choose your distractions mindfully.
  • Engage your colleagues in the process – talk about email culture and set expectations for meetings.
  • Do not blindly follow goals, do so with focus and awareness.
  • Mindfulness helps avoid action addiction.
  • Do perceptual activities before bed (dishes, walks, music), not conceptual stuff like email.
  • Face and embrace your emotions.
  • Work-life balance is a state of mind; it’s different for everyone.
  • Practice mindfulness throughout the day set boundaries and make tough choices.

In closing, what you will find with One Second Ahead is an accessible first step to introducing mindfulness into your everyday. While many of the ideas are extremely practical, that is the point. Take time to do the small things that can help bring clarity, focus and calm to your work life to keep you one second ahead of the stressors and attention drains.

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