In management, the traits of preparation and planning are generally highly regarded. Knowing what your week ahead involves and being prepared and in the right frame of mind are essential ingredients to manoeuvring yourself through what are becoming busy and demanding working weeks. I admire those people whose desks still look as pristine as they did on the day they arrived. Mine, at times, looks like the aftermath of a medieval banquet. I don’t seem to finish a task in one fell swoop and will often put things aside to come back to when I hope further enlightenment will ensue. That’s putting a positive spin on it. Quite possibly it’s good old procrastaworking.
So it was no surprise a few weeks back when I found myself in Sydney rocking up to a course that I had booked in a fit of enthusiasm some six months previously, with not a great notion of what was in store for me. I know it was designed for Google and something to do with leadership so trusted my instincts that it was probably worthwhile. The only research I had done was the event location and start time. I had no idea about who was presenting or what it was really all about, or if I did have when I booked I had clearly forgotten.
Well you can imagine my surprise and delight to come away realising I had attended one of the best two day courses of my not inconsiderable time in the workforce. It wasn’t because I had no expectations going in – it was genuinely that good!
It was a course called Search Inside Yourself conducted by SIYLI (Search Inside Yourself Learning Institute pronounced ‘silly’) and focused on mindfulness in the workplace with a significant emphasis on meditation. To boil it down it was two days of different types of meditation designed to improve emotional intelligence and leadership in the workplace. Sounds daunting? Hell yes. Sounds boring as bat shit? Hell no. While I have been meditating for quite some time this course expanded my meditation repertoire. Not all meditation tools will I use and this was the beauty of the course exposing you to a range allowing you to decide which feel like a good fit.
My personal favourite was SBNRR which if it became widespread practice, the world of business and politics would be so much better. I’ve so taken it to heart I have put it alongside the Resuscitation Chart at work. It’s an acronym that may well save your life one breath at a time.
S for STOP
B for Breathe
N for Notice
R for Reflect
R for Respond
This simple technique of catching yourself when you feel your trigger being pulled is such an invaluable tool. It should be taught in schools if it isn’t already. Imagine the volume of flame mails, vicious tweets and critical posts that could be avoided through the simple application of pausing, breathing in, then noticing the responses of our body (our age-old reptilian brain defence mechanism) and moderating our response through some simple reflection.
The folks at Google are smart. They realise that a mindful workforce is kinder, more creative and productive and their investment in the Search Inside Yourself course was money well spent. My advice to any aspiring managers looking to advance their careers through education and training is to do this course before running head-first into an MBA. Very few modern MBAs are playing in this space and it will create a very solid sub-soil in which those technical skills can flourish. So next time you stop and breathe, instead of reacting without thinking, you may find the outcome is anything but silly.