Mindfulness isn’t a silver bullet, magic elixir or otherwise. I think people are searching for the holy grail in mindfulness, and I fear they’re going to be disappointed. With that said, I have been more successful by practicing mindfulness. Because of meditation, my ability to focus has increased 100x. I can truly be fully present in hour-long meetings, fully listening, engaged, thoughtful, etc. A large part of our practice is to differentiate “story vs. fact.” I started being mindful of the stories I made up, and instead, paying attention to the facts of a situation. I realized how much of our story there is and how very little precious facts exist. I was dumbfounded on the basis of our actions is so rooted in story. Realizing this myself and training my team on this principle has been a huge and beneficial improvement to our culture. Are we now perfect? Far from it. Do I think it’s the answer to peace on earth? No. Does it make us better? Yes. Our practice of consciousness/mindfulness is here to stay and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
As a part of my series about leaders who integrate mindfulness and spiritual practices into their work culture, I had the pleasure of interviewing Adam Landrum. Adam founded Up&Up and has led it since 2002. He graduated cum laude from Clemson University and was recruited by Arthur Andersen, but his entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and he set out to create a digital agency with an incredible culture & business model. Adam’s passion is impacting people’s lives through life-changing educational experiences. He oversees the agency’s strategic direction, guides the leadership team & finds amazing ways to help our clients impact students worldwide. He’s worked with a wide range of clients, from helping Clemson University build the nation’s #1 alumni network to teaming with Erskine College to drive their highest enrollment in 50 years. In addition, he has helped transform his company’s culture by introducing conscious leadership to his team. Through radical self-awareness and vulnerability, the Up&Up culture is committed to being its authentic self through radical responsibility, curiosity, candor and being the resolution. Outside of Up&Up, Adam serves the church and its mission and mentors and coaches aspiring entrepreneurs. But the lives he hopes to impact the most are his lovely wife Shely and their four children.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Adam! Can you please share your “backstory” with us?
Asa native Hoosier, I’m the youngest of five boys, and the only one from my family to go to college outside of Indiana. While attending Clemson University, I wooed [or I was wooed by] a southern bell and we now reside in Greenville, SC. With an accounting major and subsequently passing the CPA test while employed with Arthur Andersen, I woke up and said to myself, “What am I doing?!” With the entrepreneurial spirit strong within me, I started Up&Up, a brand, and marketing agency. I have always been driven by meaning and purpose, and so I set out to create a great company that impacts people’s lives: including our clients, our clients’ clients, and my own team members. It’s this pursuit of impacting people that led me to mindfulness and consciousness. I first wanted to impact myself so I could be of a greater impact on others.
What role did mindfulness or spiritual practice play in your life growing up? Do you have a funny or touching story about that?
Most people I know have some sort of faith or spiritual experience growing up. The only thing I remember about spirituality as a kid is falling backward in a chair and breaking my wrist in a Sunday school that I had attended a time or two. My parents and family were not spiritual and breaking my wrist was my only “spiritual” experience (other than Shawn Thomas having the communion cup poured down the front of his white polo).
And I actually think that was an advantage. I was able to make decisions around my faith without the bias or guilt of going against my parents’ faith. I had the opportunity to make my own choices, relatively unencumbered.
How do your mindfulness or spiritual practices affect your business and personal life today?
Corporate-speak is that we are to achieve the mystical “work/life balance.” I don’t buy that. I’m much more of a believer in an integrated life, especially when it comes to spirituality. I don’t have a “work-life” and a separate “spiritual life.” I just have one life. My personal life, my family life, my work life, and my spiritual life are all just one big, beautiful mess. My life, is just one life, is both chaotic, beautiful, and sometimes….sometimes, balanced.
My spirituality is based on a Judeo-Christian faith is a large part of my life, both at home and at work. At home, my faith is very much part of our family and personal life. At work, I’m sensitive to others’ beliefs but personally, I still maintain the integrity of my faith. I share principles from the Bible, lead by example and strive to have my deeds align with my faith!
Mindfulness is certainly a newer movement and I’ve incorporated that as well both personally and at work. I prescribe to the 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, following a daily meditation and practicing consciousness. I have incorporated that into our culture by having our team read the book, The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, to then participating monthly in a 3-hour group forum where we work on transparency and vulnerability while practicing the commitments. During this time, I became a certified executive coach in Conscious Leadership, and I began coaching our leadership team. I trained them how to coach and we now have learning partners in which wecoach each other one-on-one, monthly. Lastly, we start many meetings with a presencing exercise. Culturally, our hiring is aligned with the commitments of mindfulness and consciousness. Quite often we speak in the office of the commitments we practice, which include but are not limited to Radical Responsibility, Curiosity, Integrity and Being the Resolution.
Do you find that you are more successful or less successful because of your integration of spiritual and mindful practices? Can you share an example or story about that with us?
Mindfulness isn’t a silver bullet, magic elixir or otherwise. I think people are searching for the holy grail in mindfulness, and I fear they’re going to be disappointed. With that said, I have been more successful by practicing mindfulness. Because of meditation, my ability to focus has increased 100x. I can truly be fully present in hour-long meetings, fully listening, engaged, thoughtful, etc. A large part of our practice is to differentiate “story vs. fact.” I started being mindful of the stories I made up, and instead, paying attention to the facts of a situation. I realized how much of our story there is and how very little precious facts exist. I was dumbfounded on the basis of our actions is so rooted in story. Realizing this myself and training my team on this principle has been a huge and beneficial improvement to our culture.
Are we now perfect? Far from it. Do I think it’s the answer to peace on earth? No. Does it make us better? Yes. Our practice of consciousness/mindfulness is here to stay and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
What would you say is the foundational principle for one to “lead a good life”? Can you share a story that illustrates that?
I think Jesus summed it up quite well: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
To me, leading a good life is to “simply” to Love = Love God. Love your neighbor. Love yourself.
In consciousness, we are taught to accept and love ourself. Although that seems pretty simple, it’s actually quite complicated. The inability to love oneself is really the source of keeping one from consciousness. Judeo-Christian beliefs say to deny yourself, love God, and serve others. I believe these two can live in harmony. In my faith, if Christ died for me and accepts me — the new me — then shouldn’t I accept myself? We are created in his image; we are his masterpiece. There’s a lot there for me to accept about myself!
Love God. Love yourself. Love others.
Can you share a story about one of the most impactful moments in your spiritual/mindful life?
In conscious leadership and many mindful practices, there’s an idea of getting to know different personas or parts within you. For me, this was something entirely new and definitely a little strange. The idea is that our personalities are comprised of many parts/personas, and each of these personas performs a pretty specific function, like the Protector, the Helper, the Critic, etc.
So getting to know my protector has been eye-opening. I learned that my personality is one that constantly scans the horizon for threats. And if I don’t have a threat, then my protector will find one. His job is to protect me — not just from threats — but those things that will annihilate me (sounds pretty paranoid, doesn’t it?!). Unconsciously, my mind was always on guard, always ready to pounce on a perceived threat that might come my way. It’s an exhausting way to live, constantly in fear that I’m going to be taken advantage of. And for the most part, highly improbable and mostly irrational, but ultimately to me and my ego, very real. But without being mindful or conscious, I wouldn’t know any better. I would just assume this is how life is lived. Now, knowing of the protector and his role, I’m able to relax. I now can catch my unconscious commitments to creating constant threats and instead, choose to believe or think about something more worthwhile. This drives a completley set of different and more healthy actions.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I have a slew of people that have helped me along the way that I’m grateful to and for. Two, in particular, are Jim Dethmer, one of the author’s of The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, and Deb Katz, an expert and Certified Conscious Leadership coach.
I live in Greenville, SC and I had just finished reading the book and I wanted more. So I emailed the Conscious Leadership Group in Chicago, IL and asked them if there were any next steps. They replied back almost immediately saying, “Jim is in Greenville tomorrow morning. Would you like to meet him for breakfast?” What were the “chances?!” My response was, “Absolutely!”
So I met with Jim and he brought along his colleague, Deb Katz. It was one of the most intriguing meetings because I was asked questions I had never been asked before. They really made me think, and now looking back, they were very mindful/conscious questions, like “What’s your relationship with money?” (Commitment of Having Enough of Everything) and at one point I became emotional and Jim, with his famous, caring response, said,” Oh, I see there’s some sadness here,” implying that sadness was welcomed and OK (Commitment of Feeling One’s Authentic Feelings). These were new concepts for me.
The next step was to do an intensive 8-week coaching session with Deb. I agreed to a price that was very uncomfortable for me, but I dove in. In those 8 weeks, Deb helped me gain such an incredible amount of self-awareness. I began to practice vulnerability and quite frankly, got to know myself, including some deep-seated fears which drove the majority of my unconscious commitments. She introduced me to the persona concept, and I began to get to know different parts of my personality, that now, looking back, makes my personality make so much more sense to me!
This put me on the course of diving into conscious leadership full-bore. I joined the Conscious Leadership Group’s year-long Certified Coaching Programs, and I am now a Certified Conscious Leadership Coach, like Deb. I’ve rolled this out to my team at my company, Up&Up, and of course the work I’ve done I’ve shared with my family which has impacted us significantly as well.
Can you share 3 or 4 pieces of advice about how leaders can create a very “healthy and uplifting” work culture?
A healthy and uplifting culture requires a radical commitment to developing the culture. Beer kegs (we have one) and ping pong tables do not make a great culture. A culture that allows people to come as they are, to be themselves and not don some work-persona is a healthy culture, in my opinion. The 15 Commitments is a great starting point, and as an example, a culture that commits to being Radically Responsible, Curious over being right, a workplace where it’s okay to be angry or scared or sad and a workplace that is committed to ending Gossip. These are just a few commitments that make a culture healthy and uplifting.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Commitment #8 in The 15 commitments of Conscious Leadership is called the Zone of Genius. I would create a movement where we as business leaders were fully committed to living in our Zone of Genius and encouraging our peers and employees to live in their Zone of Genius. Not their Zone of Excellence or their Zone of Competence — -but their Zone of Genius, where we all strive to live daily in the creative genius God created us for.
How can people follow you and find out more about you?
You can follow me on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/adamlandrum) and my blog on mindfulness and consciousness at my coaching website, bigbluesky.coach. For more information on how a company is implementing mindfulness in the workplace, visit UpandUp.agency.