A recent article in Harvard Business Review stated that meditation is “close to taking on cult status in the business world.” Indeed, in the past year the use of meditation in business seems to have hit a tipping point. A number of prominent leaders have begun to speak openly about their own personal meditation practices. General Mills, Proctor and Gamble, AOL Time Warner, Google, Target, Apple, Nike, McKinsey, and Goldman Sachs are only a few of the companies that are now offering meditation on the job. A strong case can be made for teaching meditation and mindfulness practices to leaders. We cannot be our best self in a chronic state of stress. We cannot lead at our highest level if we are chronically anxious. Many organizations are beginning to recognize that well being is integral to the foundation of good leadership. This awareness has been born out of the painful fact that the speed at which we are working and moving has outstretched our human capacity to keep up.
The typical response to this inordinate pressure is to go into emergency mode, triggering a fight/flight response. When this happens, all functions in the body that are not needed for emergency are tamped down including digestive and immune function. Clearly, this is not a good baseline state from which to work and live. And yet this is the inner state of most leaders. Over a decade ago, in an attempt to help my clients liberate themselves from this chronic state, I introduced contemplative practices into my wok.
This eventually lead me to ask the question, “What is the ideal inner state of a leader?” This is a critical question because every management and leadership skill passes through this inner filter. The ideal state of a leader is a paradoxical combination of being both relaxed and alert, calm and efficient, open and focused.
Read more of this blog on the Huffington Post: