Chapter 1 of inner leadership recommends meditation as one way to centre, ground, and deepen our connection with ourselves. But is that really relevant for business people, focused on action and execution?
In fact leaders as varied as Steve Jobs, Rupert Murdoch, Oprah Winfrey, and David Lynch have used meditation as a way not only to let go of tension but also to connect deeply with who they are and what matters most to them. This aids productivity.
Science has known for a while that meditation works, but hasn’t been able to explain why. Now this article in Psychology Today explains at least part of the story.
What happens is that meditation changes the connections in the brain.
First, it reduces the connections that lead us to take things personally: that might interpret a recurrent pain as a sign we have cancer, or that someone else’s behaviour is either because of us or a threat to us. It also strengthens the ‘assessment centre’ of the brain that enables us to make sense of what is happening.
All these effects reduce the feelings of threat we feel, calm us, and free up the brain’s resources to focus instead on seeing the situation more clearly for what it is.
Second, meditation also increases connections between the parts of our brain that enable us to relate to people who are “not like me”. The result is that we are more readily able to see other points of view, and find win-win solutions to whatever situations we are in.
If you’d like a more technical explanation you can read one here.
Alternatively, you can remember that Gandhi used to meditate for an hour a day. Then when his workload got really high, he would get up an hour earlier and meditate for two hours. This brought him centredness and calm, gave him focus on what he wanted to achieve during the day, and allowed him to see the other person’s point of view.
What he chose to do with that was to become “the man who brought down the British Empire.”
What you choose to do with it is up to you.
The Churning is a collection of tools for leadership in times of change. Inner leadership is about managing our emotions and the emotions of people around us — getting from upset and uncertainty to an inspiring vision of what we want to create in our lives. Outer leadership is a collection of tools and frameworks for delivering those outcomes in a churning world.