by Todd Essig: No reasonable person doubts that basic literacy is a fundamental business skill. After all, you won’t get far if you can’t read and write.
So too with basic social and communication skills. But mindfulness? Is mindfulness—a practiced nonjudgmental in-the-moment awareness rooted in meditation, Buddhism and yoga—also becoming an important business tool?
Organizations like the Institute for Mindful Leadership and the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute say “yes,” as does the contemplation-centric Garrison Institute. They all assert a business value for mindfulness training while also providing such training. And they root the trainings they offer in traditional practices along with contemporary neuroscience and psychology. So too withbusiness schools bringing mindfulness training into their curricula.
But not everyone is delighted by the prospect of mindfulness in the workplace. Some see it as “saffron-washing” and “abusing the Buddha,” well-intentioned efforts that sever mindfulness practice from the ethical frameworks in which such practice were developed and from which they derive meaning. Nevertheless, even the most ardent critics note mindfulness practices yield healthier, more productive employees. And emerging research backs up the value.
One of the leading voices encouraging mindfulness in the workplace has been Gopi Kallayil, Google’s Chief Evangelist for Brand Marketing. While they both hail from Google Gopi is not directly connected to the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute. He did tell me “(t)hey are doing a great service in taking the SIY program developed at Google and bringing it to the rest of the world through a non-profit.”
He and I exchanged emails about the business value of mindfulness. Readers of “Managing Mental Wealth,” especially those who have not yet gotten curious about whether mindfulness training might help in business, just might find helpful the stories and thoughts he shared with me.
He recounted a story whose beginning will be familiar to anyone who has done any public speaking. It’s the ending that’s unique and relevant. After getting on stage in front of about 200 people at a Wisdom 2.0 conference breakout session on “Wisdom and Aging,” he pressed the clicker for his first slide. Yup, you guessed it. Nothing happened.