You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks – Transformation Through Contemplative Practice Part 3 – Goleman and Google

“WHAT IF people can use contemplative practices to help them succeed in life and at work? In other words, what if contemplative practices can be made beneficial both to people’s careers and to business bottom lines?” – Chade-Meng Tan

In Parts 1 and 2, I examined (i) what are contemplative practices, as defined by the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, (ii) neuroscientific findings on the contemplative practice of meditation and (iii) the work of the NTL Institute for Applied Behavioural Science from pre-neuroscientific findings to date. 

At a personal level, I have experienced and found the entire NTL programme experience to be contemplative, causing me to PAUSE, become fully PRESENT, pay ATTENTION, become AWARE (of self and others), to develop SELF and OTHER MANAGEMENT skills, to CONNECT.

In Part 3, I explore the work of Google’s Chad Meng Tan and Daniel Goleman, renowned for his work on Emotional Intelligence. 

In his interview with Dan Schawbel of Forbes October 8th 2013, Goleman emphasises the importance of ATTENTION for excellence in learning, leading and love. He highlights the impact of technology in derailing our efforts at attention – “attention has come under siege”. Goleman identifies the need for us to become more intentional about focusing. In his book “Focus”, Goleman speaks of the need to “tune out emotional distractions” and for us to pay attention at three levels – self (awareness and control), others (empathy and relationship building) and wider world (strategy, innovation, systems). Goleman suggests that we set aside a period each day, during which we can concentrate in the absence of distractions. Meditation practice provides that period and is a way of “strengthening the brain’s attention circuitry”. 

At Google Inc, Chade-Meng Tan, a Buddhist and avid meditator was compelled by a desire for world peace and where else to begin than by “helping people at Google find the key to Happiness.” Meng however recognised that influencing his employers’ required more than just saying “let’s meditate”. He harnessed the support of Daniel Goleman; Zen Priest, Norman Fisher and founder of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, Mirabai Bush. This collaboration resulted in the highly successful Search Inside Yourself programme, which combines elements of Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation with Emotional Intelligence. The approach entails three steps:

  1. Attention training – Mindfulness Meditation
  2. Self-knowledge and self-mastery – Mindfulness Meditation and Emotional Intelligence
  3. Creating useful mental habits – Application

Dr Sarah McKay, Neuroscientist and Author, who specialises in translating science into simple, actionable strategies for health and well-being, in her review of the Neuroscience of Mindful Meditation noted some of the benefits as observed by practitioners as:

·      More focused attention

·      Relaxation

·      Positive shifts in mood

·      Enhanced self-awareness

·      Improved health and well-being

Chade Meng Tan notes that whether your intention is to reduce stress and increase well-being, heighten focus and creativity, become more optimistic and resilient, build fulfilling relationships, or make a profit, the skills provided by the Mindfulness Meditation/Emotional Intelligence training will prove invaluable for you. When we can calm our minds on demand, we are better poised to be self-aware, be happy. By extension, we engender self-confidence, integrating empathy and compassion into effective leadership and develop highly productive collaborations based on trust and transparent communication. 

Search Inside Yourself (SIY) has been taught at Google since 2007. the programme has resulted in transformation of both the personal and professional lives of participants.  Engineering manager Bill Duane, for example, discovered the importance of giving himself quality time. Bill recounted his personal changes from SIY as learned to listen a lot better, gain control over his temper, and understand every situation better by, in his words, “learning to discern stories from reality.”

If you are still not sold on the transformative impact that the contemplative practice of meditation can have on individuals, continue journeying with me, as I explore its application within other organisational structures, including my own practice at Judy Joseph Mc Sween Time Out Specialist. You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks.

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