I’ve been seeing headlines here and there on the Web about some highly successful CEOs including meditation in their daily routine. So I wanted to see if this was just some cool fad or if there were concrete performance advantages linked to it. Turns out that meditation seems to act positively on many of the negative factors that arise from working long hours.
WE DO WORK LONG HOURS
According to a 2014 Gallup survey done in the US, 50% of full-time adults reported working on average more than 40 hours a week. With nearly a third of that group saying they work on average 60 hours or more!
In Canada, a 2016 study done by Staples shows that more than 65% of managers and office workers reported working more than 40 hours a week. With 11 percent working 11 hours or more a day.
People may not necessarily be in the office the whole time but they will be taking their work home. Which means that whether as an entrepreneur, small business employee, accountant, lawyer or consultant, working more than 50 hours a week is a reality for many of us.
IMPACTS OF THOSE LONGS WEEKS?
39 hours a week was found to be the overall threshold over which health can start to decline, according to this research done by the Australian National University. Here’s how lead researcher Dr Huong Dinh explains it:
“Long work hours erode a person’s mental and physical health, because it leaves less time to eat well and look after themselves properly.”
And this article, relying on various studies, presents the possible downsides for companies linked to their workforce working too much overtime:
“These health problems contribute to the indirect costs of allowing excessive overtime to occur. Health care costs, absenteeism, and turnover will increase, while productivity will decrease.”
SO WHAT DO THE HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE DO?
How do highly successful CEOs working more than 60 hours a week on an ongoing basis do it?
You saw it coming…many well known CEOs and famous leaders practice meditation. Oprah Winfrey — no introduction needed, Arianna Huffington — co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post, Jeff Weiner — CEO of LinkedIn, Russell Simmons — co-founder of Def Jam Records, Jerry Seinfeld — stand-up comedian, Marc Benioff — founder of Salesforce, are just a few examples.
When Tim Ferriss sat down with more than 200 executives, leaders, and other people at the heights of their fields for his new book, Tools of Titans, he found that 80% practiced some form of ‘guided mindfulness practice’. Meditation being one of the common ways to practice mindfulness.
A brief definition of mindfulness from Wikipedia:
“Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.“
An article from the Harvard Business Review credits meditation with enhancing creativity, helping people focus and helping to deal with stress and anxiety, therefore building resilience. Testimonies from CEOs also reveal meditation is boosting their emotional intelligence by helping them develop patience and control their emotions.
SIMPLER THAN YOU THINK
As Arianna Huffington describes it, meditation may be simpler than we tend to believe:
“Although I’ve known its benefits since my teens, finding time for meditation was always a challenge because I was under the impression that I had to ‘do’ meditation. And I didn’t have time for another burdensome thing to ‘do.’ Fortunately, a friend pointed out one day that we don’t ‘do’ meditation; meditation ‘does’ us. That opened the door for me. The only thing to ‘do’ in meditation is nothing.”
So not only could meditation be a saviour for each of us, but it could very well become a practice that more companies will want to introduce to employees in their work environment. Following the path of firms like Goldman Sachs and Google who are leading the way.
Are you practicing some form of mindfulness like meditation? If so, what are the positive effects you get from it? Or else, anything stopping you from wanting to start?