Why MBA Programs, and Major Companies, are Investing in Mindfulness Training

It’s been several years since I wrote an article about mindfulness becoming the new yoga. Indeed, this has continued to be the trend; mindfulness meditation practices are now mainstream, whether used via one of the many popular apps or delivered through Zoom classes, YouTube videos or podcasts. So many of us, this year alone, have found mindfulness practices to be one of the most essential ‘vitamins’ for coping with the heaping pile of crises we’ve been living through.

As a long-time mindfulness practitioner and instructor, sitting meditation feels like a connective tissue in my being. This doesn’t mean that I’m a better human being than you or anyone else. I do have this, and other practices, to readily call upon to help me look at my experience with a larger perspective that helps me to cope with challenges. But it would be wrong for me, or truly, any of us, excepting maybe the Dalai Lama or a few other rare individuals, to say we’ve got it all figured out and we aren’t ever thrown off our game. One of the most valuable aspects I’ve found from having a long-time practice is having this larger perspective which helps me remember that all things are impermanent, and which helps me experience more compassion and forgiveness for myself and others. 

Compassion and forgiveness, to some, sound like that dangerous experience of vulnerability. Stanford University’s Monica Worline and Jane Dutton, reference research in their book Awakening Compassion at Work,  that increased emotional intelligence, those soft skills, increases productivity and efficacy at work; that productivity increases when people are more transparent, enabling them to create informal, valuable networks and an environment that fosters meaningful and robust relationships to effect action to accomplish goals. While this may seem obvious, we also find that pressure to move quickly, and being rushed can turn even the kindest people into coarse, impatient ‘others’ who aren’t able to see the real person in front of them. With training, I know it’s possible to intentionally slow down to see the ‘other’ and cultivate more empathy, and compassion to effectively communicate to get things done.

Clearly, competition is healthy, and the marketplace requires fast action. The drive to get things done and to succeed don’t disappear just because you’re willing to consider others’ needs and experiences. In fact, one of the reasons so many leaders are turning to mindfulness practices is that they find with regular (even short periods) of meditation they can more easily focus on what’s in front of them, and likewise, can look at the larger picture with a greater awareness. Additionally, intentionally mindful leaders better self-regulate which translates into more consistent leadership presence ~ they convey more genuine confidence and approachability. If you’ve worked with a boss who’s a screamer like some of my clients, you know how deeply unsettling and de-motivating this bad behavior can be. We know that more people leave jobs because of bad bosses and the toxic culture they create. It makes senses, therefore, for businesses to invest in those new MBAs (and others) who already know how to slow down to access their sense of perspective and calm with intentional practices that ground them. These individuals are equipped with healthy habits of mind that steady them during the rough days (and years) of change.

With roughly 40 years’ of mindful awareness practice and years of study about the efficacy and science of mindfulness and compassion, I offer clients mindfulness training and coaching, supporting them to develop their genuine leadership presence, along with more satisfaction and success at work and home. Want more information? Contact [email protected] and we’ll schedule a consultation. This time of Covid-19 has pushed many people to their edge; let’s make this a profound time of healthful transformation for you.