Cultivating Mindfulness

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 4 Finding your Niche, skmurphy

Cultivating mindfulness requires you to maintain situational awareness and realize when your reflexes may trigger a reaction that is not as thoughtful as the situation requires.

Cultivating Mindfulness

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Viktor E. Frankl

Randima (Randy) Fernando of Mindful Schools has developed a nice diagram for Frankl’s insight:


Bud Caddell included it in an article on “The Mindful Org”

Fight, flight, or freeze are reactions we see in both people and organizations. In short, reaction is action without meditation (cognition and awareness).
Bud Caddell in “The Mindful Org

I think this definition of mindfulness–and Fernando’s diagram explaining it–are a very useful way to conceptualize how you start to engage in real learning. If you cannot interrupt your unconscious reaction you have no way to put new approaches into action. It’s inserting the “Orient and Decide” between Observe and Act in the OODA Loop.

Like a mindful person, a Responsive Organization is constantly sensing its environment and itself, yet relying on awareness of both to form a response rather than mindlessly react. In an organization, this is a process that involves both systems thinking and sensemaking – to understand the organization’s environment, to understand the forces behind those conditions, and to estimate the outcome of a response.
Bud Caddell in “The Mindful Org

Extending this to an organization level is key to a startup’s ability to not only take effective action but learn at a team and business level, hopefully faster than competition that may be locked into “autopilot” responses. If you focus on the fastest action possible then you are relying on reflex and reaction, bypassing orientation and conscious deliberation. This does not lead to superior performance but “extinction by instinct.”

It’s not the fastest reaction, it’s the decision that leads to the first effective response.

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Comments (5)

  • SKMurphy, Inc. Planning and Reflection - SKMurphy, Inc.


    […] This is the “orientation” step in the OODA loop (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act). Due to a blatant misrepresentation of OODA by a Roger Sessions of Microsoft that “Speed of iteration beats quality of iteration” which was amplified by Jeff Atwood as “Boyd’s Law of Iteration” Lean Startup bloggers have stressed speed of quality. But Boyd’s OODA loop teaches that it’s not the fastest reaction, it’s the decision that leads to the first effective response. […]


  • Christina Costelo


    Hi there,

    Your diagram is misattributed to Budd. That was actually created by the nonprofit Mindful Schools.

    Thanks for considering citing properly!

    Take care,


  • Sean Murphy


    Further research and additional substantiation provided by Mindful schools leads me to believe that in fact that diagram was developed by Randima (Randy) Fernando of Mindful Schools. I relied on the attributions in the original Mindful Organization article which implied it was Bud Caddell’s work. My apologies for any confusion this has caused, I have updated the post to reflect my current best understanding of the authorship. I have asked Bud Caddell for comment but have not gotten a reply.


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