Ewan Anderson

Ewan Anderson

Associate Director

Meditation for business

Something caught my eye as I trawled through my entrepreneur list on Twitter the other day that made me stop in my tracks – which is the whole point I guess.

“5 reasons why every budding entrepreneur must meditate”

Really.

This seems a very definitive position to take, but, as I’m always on the lookout for that elusive extra percentage point that makes all the difference in business, I thought I would find out why I must mediate my way to success.

The reasons were, as you would imagine, pretty standard. You’ll have read a few of these before:

  1. Stress-busting
  2. Eliminates distractions
  3. Enhances productivity
  4. Increases patience levels
  5. Improves problem solving

All very worthwhile and I’m sure if I was able to achieve all of these I would be a happier, more productive, insightful entrepreneur.

That said, a simple search on mediation and its value to business finds a number of other articles that suggest the complete opposite:

“8 reasons why meditation is a complete waste of time”

Likewise, I’m sure you have read a few of these articles which completely tear meditation to shreds. Katie Mather makes reasoned, if a little combative, argument to suggest:

  1. It’s the least convenient way to enhance your brain
  2. No matter what your therapist says, it isn’t the definitive answer to your anxiety
  3. It isn’t the answer to your depression
  4. It won’t make you a more compassionate person
  5. It pales in comparison to other methods of dealing with stress
  6. It’s not going to change how you think
  7. It won’t erase your physical pain
  8. It’s not the miracle health cure people make it out to be

I have to admit, hands up, I have engaged with mindfulness meditation and it has helped me focus, but I can understand some of Katie’s arguments.

The stress of business, especially in the world of startups, is clear to see and we’re all looking for a way to manage pressure without it impacting on our productivity.

So who is right in this meditation debate?

It strikes me from reading both sides of the argument that this is very much a personal journey. There are those who feel mindfulness meditation is merely a placebo effect created by the modern executive and jumped on by the Wall Street and Silicon Valley types – people trying to balance their ambitious nature with a more relaxed demeanour in an effort to fit into the modern approach to business.

Robert Wright, writing in Wired.com, identifies what he feels as C-Suite executives adopting a light version of what true meditation is. The 10-20 minutes quiet time people are taking away from their desk, either at home or in a dark room in the office, while valuable to them isn’t really what the purists might call proper meditation.

However, I tend think if it works, then why not? Ultimately, what is the goal – a more focused, more effective me who produces better results in whatever it is I want to achieve. If meditation achieves that then what’s the harm?

Katie’s argument that this ‘meditation-light’ is not the answer to any of your problems is a bit of a generalisation. People find solutions and answers to problems in the most obscure of ways. If you can find a way of de-cluttering your mind on the golf course or by pulling on your running shoes and jogging round the park like Michelle Obama then that’s what to do.

The fortune.com article on the how business leaders handle stress proves exactly that. There are a whole host of ways some of the most successful people in the world handle stress; from playing games like Brad Pitt to moving away from the desk and walking round the office like Twitter Co-founder Jack Dorsey.

Meditation

So I guess the answer is, try a range of things to find what works for you. Don’t be put off because it doesn’t work for you straight away or because someone somewhere is dissing an approach that hasn’t worked for them. Remember, the ultimate goal for you is to find a bit more peace and balance in what is an exciting and stressful life of a senior executive.

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