The ABC to Becoming a Healthier Human in Your Association

Written by Holly Duckworth on April 25, 2019

As busy association executives at every level of your organization, you are required to address multiple demands at the same time. You experience change, and that change can cause chaos.

I practice and teach applied mindfulness, which has changed my life. It has given me the ability to stay calm in moments of chaos, and it helps me easefully sort through priorities and make focused decisions. I have also companioned many association executives to create new jobs or change the mindset of the jobs they are in to be less stressed and more focused.


It’s about being fully present in the moment. You don’t need to sit on a yoga mat or in a meditation pose to be mindful. Mindfulness or applied mindfulness can happen in the car on the way to work, at your desk, or between meetings. These micro-moments are used to center, focus and reduce stress while making you a more effective association executive.

It surprises me when leaders show reluctance to recognize that they build their own reality with the thoughts, beliefs, and actions they make each day. In my book Everyday Mindfulness: From Chaos to Calm In A Crazy World, I help people be inspired each day and set a daily intention. The intention is different than a daily goal. An intention is about being clear on how you want to set your energy in motion each day.

How do you want to be in the doing? For example, if I am an association executive in the membership department, do I want to be stressed taking member calls each day or do I want to be joyful? Focus less on the “doing” and a bit more on “being”.

Mindfulness can make you less reactive and more responsive to demands, and in result, make you and your team more productive and profitable.


Here are a few simple tips to get you started in practicing applied mindfulness in the morning, in your car, before that member phone call:

A. Affirm the good

State something positive every day.

B. Breathe

Just take a moment to breathe.

C. Choose how you want to be in your doingness

If you choose to be easeful and stress-free, you’ll be surprised at how much more you can get done. Change happens, but chaos is a choice.

Just like a star athlete does not win the first time they take the field or the court, neither does a mindful leadership executive. Mindfulness practice is important because we are killing ourselves under the weight of stress.

Some may call taking moments for yourself each day selfish, I say self first is not selfish. In fact, if you don’t take care of you, you can’t take care of your staff or your members.