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How to spot collective mindfulness?

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Little m & Big M Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a challenge of attention allocation.  We tend to have both eyes on the current main thing, everything else is on autopilot. Mindful means were moving the main thing along and keeping one eye out for the yellow flags we might miss.

Imagine we’re climbing a mountain. We’re focused on the current slope. But are we running out of water?

  • Little m Mindfulness concerns yellow flags within our current goals and values – let’s look for water before we get too high and dry but keep climbing the mountain.
  • Big M Mindfulness concerns yellow flags that prompt reconsidering our current goals and values – are we on the right mountain?

So how might you determine Big M or Little M?

The question not to ask: We need to watch for both little m and big M. Little m is key to getting most things done well. Big M is key to considering the big picture.

The question to ask:  This yellow flag, is it little m or Big M? Are we seeing a threat or missing an opportunity within our current goals and values?  That’s important. Or might it suggest we could stand back and adjust our current goals and values? That’s important too! In group and organizational contexts, Big M yellow flags might invite re-thinking group culture, how leadership is distributed, priority agendas, matters of public responsibility, gender issues, etc.

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Harvard Graduate School of Education