A friend sent me an interesting New York Times article by Sindya N. Bhanoo called How Meditation May Change the Brain. Since I love reading about neuroscience – and pretty much science in general – I settled in for a pleasant read with nary a thought about Work Coach Cafe, careers or any facet of the workplace. Then I saw this paragraph:
“The researchers report that those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in gray-matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. “
Measurable changes? I already knew that meditation is thought to have numerous health and life benefits, but science is now telling us it can visibly change our brains?
It suddenly struck me… if this were true and managers throughout the world were to add daily meditation to their workday, the world could become a much better place. And I’ll even go so far as to say commercial enterprise as a whole, world-wide, would become more profitable due to resulting economies of scale in the net savings derived. Or at least everyone would be a lot happier.
Let’s take it one by one:
Better memory – How many times has a boss forgotten something and blamed it on an employee – or made someone else rush to clean up the mess? Think of the dollars wasted, not to mention the emotional toll. Heck…even having your boss remember all you do would be kinda nice. (OK. I don’t really think daily meditation can cure all memory problems, but certainly couldn’t hurt.)
Sense of self – Bully bosses are just one category of bosses with low self esteem. And we all know the pain of being trapped in the land of indecision by a wishy-washy boss. A boss with a good balanced sense of self can make all the difference between a workplace that rocks and roils with every mood or whim, and one that actually can focus on its mission – and keep good talent from leaving.
Empathy – One of the most important traits a true leader can possess. Although some will argue it gets in the way of tough decisions, I think empathy allows hard decisions to be made in a way that the long-term health of both companies and employees is preserved. Great leaders know imagining what it feels like to be in another person’s shoes and factoring that in to their decisions can be a powerful transformative workplace tool.
Stress – No one benefits when managers are stressed out – especially workers who in turn get stressed upon. Keeping a workplace at permanent high-intensity is a recipe for organizational burnout – as well as endless errors and clean-up. Whether it’s daily meditation or some other means, finding a way to routinely de-stress a workplace is a worthy goal. Managers as well as employees benefit from taking it down a notch or two.
So Is Meditation the Answer?
I guess it depends on what the question is.
The article that started me thinking uses the word “may” in its title, since no one study is conclusive – and even a group of studies can give false positives. But that said, I’m a big fan of meditation (when I remember to actually do it…ahem) and would certainly love to see what would happen if businesses throughout the world decided to give it a try. Would there indeed be tangible and even measurable wide-scale workplace effects from daily practice?
Just something fun to ponder. What do you think?