The Corporate Image
Oddly enough, mindfulness is not the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word “corporation”. I know what you’re going to say, and I know that it’s heresy to admit it, but I just can’t see corporations and any sort of mindful practice coexisting. Call me a rebel…
When I read “corporation”, my mind starts serving me pictures of CEOs and bankers on Wall Street patting themselves on the back for saving millions by laying off thousands of workers. I see meetings with agendas as shallow as the LA River. I see back-room deals being made to introduce GMOs into the food chain, and deciding that no animal products should go to waste, so let’s feed cow blood to calves and ignore BSE. That’s just me, and those thoughts present my filters between my senses and my mind, forged through exposure to stimuli, or maybe just bad meat products…
Irrespective of the opportunity to go deep into mindfulness that the last paragraph has shown me, this article will be about something I find to be very interesting. It’s about Google, and more importantly, a choice made inside that corporation to produce a course on emotional intelligence. One of the main tenants of that course was mindfulness techniques, and how they can change your life, the lives of your colleagues, and the company at large.
Search Inside Yourself
Search Inside Yourself is a course that is available to those inside the hallowed halls of Google. The most successful search engine and “anti-corporate” corporate behemoth offers this class to employees as a way to empower the individual. Happier employees are more engaged, and make better decisions, and probably work longer hours for less money, as long as they have a tube slide and massage chairs that face aquariums… I digress…
There was a recent article in Forbes, of all places, referring to the course at Google, called, “Google Teaches Employees To “Search Inside Yourself”. It’s a great article that explores not just the course, but mindfulness itself. The author, Todd Esig, states,
It doesn’t matter where or how you develop mindfulness. Doesn’t matter why. Doesn’t even matter what you do: meditation, yoga, prayer, therapy, gratitude, science-help practices, hiking, painting, exercise, etc. It’s all good.
Any practice or activity that supports reflection over reactivity, encourages feeling feelings rather than acting on them, and opens awareness to what is really going on is of benefit. Slow down, notice, and savor is a great way to build mental wealth no matter where or how. It just is. All mindfulness really is good mindfulness.
This is the truth, and one I’m coming to realize more and more as I delve deeper into the practice. Mindfulness can come about through ANY activity, as long as you are aware of what you are doing when you are doing it. You could be in the most boring and mind-numbing place in the world, but you can also recognize the boredom and take stock of how you feel about it. What is your body doing? What thoughts are running through your head? These things are always with you wherever you are. Take advantage of that simple truth.
While Google recognizes that this sort of course will ultimately help employees in more ways than one, in addition to providing indoor massage chairs that face aquariums, or huge slides between floors, or even free snacks and pool tables. The fostering of a supportive environment in which mindfulness practice is encouraged could go a long way toward transforming corporate culture for the better.
Unfortunately, though, Google is forward thinking (well, barring their last algo update), while many other companies and corporations aren’t so. Many companies still subscribe to the old ways, and some are just plain toxic places to work. Some rely on fear to keep people in their seats, and some are just clueless and self-serving, regardless of their impact on the environment and the inhabitants of the planet.
Access The Now
Luckily though, the course has been wrapped up into a book aptly titled, “Search Inside Yourself, The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (And World Peace).” It’s available in most book stores like Amazon or B&N, or probably libraries and local book stores as well.
Now, even those in mindless drone companies can learn to practice mindfulness and reap the benefits of doing so. I wonder how long corporations will get a bad wrap if their employees produce a groundswell of mindfulness and change the culture of their workplaces from within and without. Regardless, there is a quiet revolution beginning.
What are your thoughts? Is this all just wishful thinking?