There are seminal moments in everybody’s career. Those peak experiences that combine all your talents, experience, training and desire to make a contribution in a single moment, period or even day in your life. When you have a moment like that, as I did recently, you realize that all the blood, sweat, tears and figuring things out you did along the way was worth it.
But those moments can be fleeting.
For me, I was over-the-moon earlier this year with the opportunity to help facilitate a workshop at one of the most admired companies in the world. Not only was I asked to help put on a workshop at Google’s HQ in L.A., but it would be to add meaning, purpose and intention to the lives of the employees and other participants who attended. This wasn’t going to be a boring business workshop, it was about helping attendees evolve into the people, leaders, citizens and family members they wanted to be.
In addition to being a household name and now a verb, Google is also one of the corporate leaders in the field of mindfulness and emotional intelligence. Their cutting-edge program, Search Inside Yourself, in which thousands of engineers and others have participated, is an example of the most enlightened thinking about business around in mainstream business.
In a nutshell, employees are given the tools to learn to become aware of their own emotional states and, in so doing, become better team mates, have greater resilience when stuff doesn’t work (which happens constantly at an engineering behemoth where experimentation and failure happen constantly), have less stress and improved morale. These elements in turn keep employee turnover manageable (and I’m sure the amazing free goodies at the cafeterias keep employees tethered to their seats as well), foster greater creativity and, you guessed it, profits.
But practicing mindfulness and learning the skills of emotional intelligence don’t happen overnight. Patience and slow, sustainable action are required to search inside yourself consistently enough to transform your life, work, health and relationships.
Recently a one-on-one coaching client of mine, a San Francisco-based software engineer looking for support to move into a field where he could express greater creativity in his work, began to slowly and gently cultivate mindfulness and self-awareness. When it was challenging and slow-going for him to meditate, we found other practices that he could engage in (like a single yoga posture, for example) that helped him develop greater internal resilience. This was crucial to help him to let go of some of the negative self-talk that would threaten to sabotage his efforts at finding new, more meaningful work in alignment with his current values. Happily he stuck with it, ended up moving to a new city and found more satisfying work.
Mindfulness and cultivating emotional intelligence practices take time, compassion and support to learn, cultivate and hone.
I was privileged to assist at a workshop Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) at the University of Massachusetts gave on mindfulness at the Omega Institute years ago. It was an incredible honor to learn from this man who has made such a significant contribution to humanity, through his work of helping people improve their health and stress through mindfulness. Looking at the headlines and hearing what my clients say about dealing with stress in the world, I am fortunate to have been able to learn from one of the greats.
I still practice daily and, when the stuff hits the fan in my work and my life, as it regularly does and has in a big way this year, I simply go back to the practices and pick right back up where I left off. My clients teach me the value and importance of developing sustainable practices we can keep up with for a lifetime, no matter what is going on in our lives. Books like Jon Kabat Zinn’s classic Full Catastrophe Living and mindfulness audio meditations (which you can listen to and download for free HERE) help greatly but there is nothing quite like working with someone either in a group or one-on-one to develop a practice.
The best part about exploring mindfulness I find is that, once you get a taste of it, you want more. It’s like being asleep to your life and your work and then … BAM. You begin to wake up.
And once you are awake, you can never, ever really fall back asleep again.
In the Palm Springs area? Be sure to check out the upcoming workshop Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace: How Personal and Business Sustainability Go Together on November 10, 2016. To register go to www.cvwbc.org. Find out more on Facebook.