Mindfulness In The Business World
Over the last 15 years there has been an increased interest in mindfulness in a variety of segments of our society. It is interesting to see how the business world has taken to mindfulness over the last decade. One of the earliest examples is the Search Inside Yourself program started at Google by employee number 107 (Chade Meng-Tan, who goes simply by “Meng”) over 10 years ago. Since then thousands of Google employees have taken the 20 hour course (often after enduring a six months wait list). The course has been the subject of numerous articles over the years and a book by Meng.
The course focuses on mindful meditation techniques (similar to those which are part of the Sea Change program), and in particular their use in developing skills around emotional intelligence, as that has been found to be a critical element of success in the business world. Here is how a Business Insider article describes the course at a high level:
“As a course, Search Inside Yourself is broken into three portions:
- Attention training: “At any time, whatever is happening to you — whether you’re under stress, you’re being shouted at, or anything else — you have the skill to bring the mind to a place that’s calm and clear. If you can do that, it lays the foundation for emotional intelligence,” Meng says.
- Self-knowledge: “Once your mind is calm and clear, you can create a quality of self-knowledge or self-awareness that improves over time, and it evolves into self-mastery. You know about yourself enough that you can master your emotions,” Meng says.
- Creating mental habits: “For example, there is the mental habit of kindness, of looking at every human being you encounter and thinking to yourself, ‘I want this person to be happy.’ Once that becomes a habit, you don’t have to think about it; it just comes naturally,” Meng says.”
The course has been a great success. Employees have reported that it has increased their ability to deal with stress both at work and in their personal lives. And improved employee mindsets leads to better and more productive workers–here is a recent Google quote on the program:
“The Search Inside Yourself program has led to many benefits—to greater resilience when faced with challenges, a positive mindset, and centered leadership. In the midst of complexity, it’s about finding the inner capacity to create, to thrive, to lead. And it’s surprisingly fun. Backed by some of the world’s leading experts in neuroscience and mindfulness, SIY is changing thousands of lives in over a dozen countries.”
Google is far from alone in the adoption of mindfulness in the business world–in the book “Mindful Work” David Geller details how mindfulness practices are being used by companies like Adobe, Goldman Sachs, Aetna and General Mills to reduce employee stress, and to improve their well-being and productivity in the work place.
Sea Change’s mindfulness program aims at the same kinds of things as does the Google program. We use mindfulness to increase the ability of the students to control their attention, which increases the ability to choose how to think and act more wisely in any given situation, rather than acting according to impulse or habit. Our goal is to train society’s leaders–young people who have resilience in the face of challenge, a positive mindset, centered leadership, and who live happy and fulfilling lives. We believe that our mindfulness program contributes to all of these goals.