What do the World Economic Forum, the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, and the cover of Time Magazine have in common? All of them are investigating mindfulness as a way to grow and develop new human capacity.
Mindfulness has been around for 3,000 years and has been practiced within many of the world’s great spiritual traditions. More recently, it has attracted the attention of world economic leaders and high performing athletes. There is a growing awareness of the connection between mindful practices and improved performance.
The Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks started the season with regular meditation sessions for all of the players. They are not the first athletes to be introduced to this approach to enhancing their performance. One of the most successful coaches in NBA history, Phil Jackson, taught similar techniques to the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers World Championship teams that he led. The coaches of these teams believe that there is a connection between enhanced awareness, emotional control, and clear minds and excellence in athletic performance.
In the recent World Economic Forum, held in Davos, Switzerland, mindfulness was not only a topic of discussion but one of the topics that drew the largest number of participants. The participants included CEOs of some of the world’s most successful companies. The CEOs are looking for a way to deepen the ability of their companies to function in a complex business environment that is sustainable in the long run. Developing a more mindful business in a way that some are attempting to address these issues.
Perhaps this is just the latest fad in a never-ending quest to find the secret to success and it will take its place with encounter groups and other once popular trends.
But there is also a possibility that the development of deeper levels of awareness in a systematic format that has been shown to enhance brain function is something that business needs to notice, particularly if the goal is to have a workplace that can perform at high levels.
One goal of the American Psychological Association’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program is to help employers learn about the critical components of a workplace that enhance employee well-being and the effectiveness of the organization. It has been demonstrated that these are not mutually exclusive goals but rather that, when business becomes more psychologically healthy, these goals enhance and support each other.
One way to begin the process of creating a more psychologically healthy and high-performing workplace may be to begin to systematically develop a more mindful workplace, from the leadership all the way through the entire organization.
Over the next few weeks, I will try to detail the process of becoming more mindful and enumerate the potential benefits that may await those who are willing to embark on this journey.