Key Point: Our capacity and will to be intentionally mindful is a mental framework that is becoming more imperative than ever. Why? We live in uncertain, disruptive times, with all the associated opportunities and difficulties. The only certainty is that there is no certainty in our work, finances, relationships and day-to-day living.
So the ability to focus on control of our mind is necessary for the self-awareness required for enlightened leadership and daily resource navigation. For those cultures and proponents of meditation, this is no surprise. However, this may be advanced thinking for many western organizations and employees. What about you? What are your daily meditation skills like? How do you employ them?
One of the leading voices encouraging mindfulness in the workplace has been Gopi Kallayil, Google’s Chief Evangelist for Brand Marketing. Kallayil tells the following poignant story:
“Once, in a very challenging work situation, a colleague at Google pulled a coin out of his pocket, a family heirloom from his grandfather, embossed with an image of the American bison. The bison is a denizen of mountains and valleys where snowstorms are swift and brutal. My colleague told us it’s the only animal that will turn toward the storm, lean into it and walk to meet it, which is why Native Americans call it “Faces the Storm. It knows instinctively that if it does this, it will be out of the storm sooner. That’s not a New Age, wishful view, but an evidence-based one. There’s a growing body of research and growing recognition of how meditation, yoga and other contemplative skills can enhance well-being, healthy stress response, creativity, problem solving and performance at work. We’ve offered Search Inside Yourself (SIY) trainings to Google employees for over two years now, and they tell us it’s changed their lives. It’s certainly helped make Google a more dynamic, and I believe, a more successful company.”
Ok… Google is Google but there seems to be rapidly increased interest in the value of contemplative skills. ABC’s “Nightline” co-anchor Dan Harris, has authored a book entitled 10% Happier and it has been on the Times best-seller list for months. Harris depicts himself as a tough-minded pragmatist, who struggles at even having to cover religious events for ABC News. Yet he states his mission explicitly in the book’s preface: “Meditation suffers from a towering PR problem. If you can get past the cultural baggage, though, what you’ll find is that meditation is simply exercise for your brain.”
In a recent New Yorker article, Jacob Rubin, weighed in on meditation and specifically 10% Happier:
“Harris soon discovers, meditating is exceedingly hard to do. Its sheer difficulty makes it resonant with the values of capitalism. It requires ‘genuine grit’ and can give you a real advantage. He (Harris) approvingly quotes a Georgetown professor who has helped to bring mindfulness training to the Marines: ‘There is nothing incense-y about [meditation].’ Harris’ metaphors are practical, hygienic, and often financial. He compares it to brushing one’s teeth. Meditation yields a good ‘return on investment.’”
- Learn how to mediate develop and practice mindfulness. This is now an imperative skill for people who want to be better leaders of themselves, others, AND their business. Frankly, I believe in today’s world, it is way more important to practice mindfulness than lowering your golf handicap.
- Practice yoga, meditation, and other mindful enhancing activities during day-to-day work time. Why? It will help you lead better and the data/research underpinning this statement is convincing. (Model this for your teammates).
- Learn to be like the bison by always facing the storm. The turbulence ends sooner and better that way.
Edited and Published by Garrett Rubis
One Millennial View: Oh, who hasn’t tried yoga in one form or another by now? I happen to be anti-incense, anti-chant, anti-make-noise, anti-hum… No judgment on anyone who likes those things, but all those would get in the way of “my meditation.” Regardless, anyone who has ever done some sort of stretching or calming exercises to their preferred customization knows that you leave the session with a better sense of being. I also believe that meditation can come in the form of everything from a good run to a game of golf… Whatever your preferred method of “meditation,” go for it.
– Garrett Rubis