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Mindful Leader Interview - Vicki Flaherty


Patrick Kozakiewicz

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I recently held a 6 question mindful leader interview with Vicki Flahety. Vicki is has a Ph.D in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. She worked in Executive Leadership Development and led the Mindfulness@IBM Community for many years. She is a coach, a facilitator, a blogger and an artist.

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You can listen to the full interview via our podcast or you can read the main conversation highlights below.

What are the biggest problems we face as leaders today?

The biggest challenge (not problem - listen to the podcast to learn from why she chooses the word challenge and not problem + why the words we use are so powerful in shaping our lives). 

The biggest challenge we face today is uncertainty, and it feels like uncertainty has increased astronomically. 


Your favorite quote, credo or mantra?

Be the change. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” - Gandhi


A particular situation in which your mindful practice supported you in a professional and personal way?

The first one that comes up for me is a personal one. Almost 10 years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and there was a lot of fear initially. I began to cope with it and to move through it in moments of stillness.

I would just sit, at the dining room table or out in nature, which caused me to slow down. I would listen to what I was experiencing. At first it was a challenge and I couldn't even label what I was experiencing, but eventually a word or phrase like, I'm afraid, or angry or calm, would arise. That’s where my love for words began to grow. I learned to name what I was experiencing. I know in mindfulness times they say not to label what's happening. Yet, for me the labeling created insight and understanding. I guess the key there is to be kind, and if you’re labelling to do it in a non-judgmental way. 

Professionally, practicing gratitude has helped me. Just being grateful for ‘what is’ in this moment can be so beneficial. I had work challenges, like everyone, and sometimes I had difficult assignments or was asked to do things that I didn't necessarily want to do. Finding what I could be grateful for in those situations opened things up, and made me more creative.

Now both stillness and gratitude are part of my daily mindfulness practice. I take time to simply be still and I write at least three things that bring me joy in my life daily. I love the experience of joy so tuning into it and focusing on it in an intentional way keeps me aligned with creating that experience for myself.



Young businessman holding fire flames in palms

🔥 Rapid Fire Questions 🔥

What gets on your nerves? Lack of kindness 

Favorite mindful practice? Stillness

Morning or night person?  Day person :)

A good book or good movie? Good book

One word to describe you? Calm  

Singing or dancing? Writing

Autumn or Spring? Spring

If you were reborn in a new life, would you rather be alive in the past or future? Future

Would you rather know how you will die or when you will die? When


How does one grow mindfulness personally and professional?

It starts with showing up in a mindful way so that people notice it and feel it before they even know what you're talking about.

I love your series because you've got such a diverse set of people with different experiences and perspectives and you're not claiming one definition of mindfulness or leadership…you’re showing different perspectives. What connects your listeners is how your guests show up, how they are, how they be. That’s kind of how I see what we did together with Mindfulness@IBM. What I liked most about our movement was that we met people where they were, and we brought people with their unique experiences together. We found that balance between respect for the science, the history, and known practices, and the individual experience. We embraced the diversity of our people and the global reach of our company, where cultures and geography affect how people practice.

There's something really powerful about a grassroots movement, where we honor people's diverse perspectives and experiences around what mindfulness is and how it can make a difference in our work and our lives.


Three experiments you would recommend an individual to go through:

1. A leadership program I went to 15 years ago now, called Radical Leadership.  

2. Playing with levels of awareness. Awareness of myself, others, other beings, of the surroundings, etc.

3. Gratitude really has the power to shift our thinking. So, next time you are experiencing something you don't want, see if you can play with or notice something you are grateful for and see if that shifts in how you are feeling and seeing things. 


Final Suggestions/Recommendations by Vicki

Check out Radical Leadership 

Rolf Gates

Meditations from the Mat (book)

Meditations on Intention & Being (book) 

Free Guided Mindfulness via facebook


Books that shaped who Vicki is and how she shows up for life:

The Book of Awakening and The One Life We’re Given by Mark Nepo

My Grandfather’s Blessings and Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen

Awake at Work and Fearless at Work by Mark Carroll

Mindful Leadership by Maria Gonzalez

The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer

The Joy of Appreciative Living by Jacqueline Kelm


A Couple of Gifts for You from Vicki

Meditative Blossoms

BlinkMinds Guided Meditation Practices


You can follow Vicki…

Social media:

LinkedIn * twitter

Her blogs:

Leading with Intention * And Then Opens Possibility * Where Possibility Awaits  * thejoyfulleye

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