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As I’ve continued to grow and learn, as I’ve thrived and stumbled through various experiences and seasons of life, I’ve noticed that three practices in particular are the most powerful, transformative, and relevant for meaningful living and careers, in the face of both possibilities and threats. 

Mindfulness is the practice of giving full attention to what’s happening within and around you, without judging yourself or others. It’s both a key component of Buddhist teaching and a unifying thread throughout Buddhism itself, and helps foster concentration, focus, and objective thinking. On a deeper level, extensive mindfulness practice culminates in a gradual awakening to one’s true nature of pure awareness and happiness, and with this the liberation from suffering known as “nirvana.” 

Mindfulness has proven itself foundational for two other core practices: Learning (both for the sake of learning and the growth of new thinking and execution skills, including the development of “learning agility”) and Storytelling (both for the sake of experiencing powerful stories and learning to tell them in multiple formats to various audiences).

Mindfulness empowers learning, which empowers storytelling. Storytelling enhances learning, which enhances mindfulness. The more we discover powerful stories and the more we fine-tune our own storytelling, the hungrier we are to learn and grow. The hungrier we are to learn and grow, the more mindful we want to be so we don’t miss out on any of the wonders that are unfolding before us.

 
One strength contains the other two strengths. We can set aside energy to develop specific components of each strength, and in doing so we amplify the other two.
 
This is good news. This is living into possibilities, and cultivating the optimism to respond to disruptions or threats rather than simply react to them.
 
John M. DeMarco is a writer, executive coach, and activist based in Nashville, Tennessee.