One of the bittersweet aspects of summer is that it is difficult to be in the moment and enjoy a season that passes all too quickly. In our anxiety to savor the summer, we can lose some of the enjoyment of a time most of us look forward to, especially during the cold and dark winter. A potential solution is mindfulness, which can deepen our understanding and appreciation of the here and now.
The online and in print presence of mindfulness is growing fast. I’ve enjoyed my subscription to a new magazine, Mindful, which began publication earlier this year. The current, August 2013 issue has a number of interesting articles that can be applied to work and elsewhere. So much of the focus of summer is making the most of vacations and leisure time, yet work also has to get done.
Tara Healey of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care contributes “Putting Mindfulness to Work.” A compelling article that applies inside and outside the workplace is “A user’s guide to living well in screenworld,” about exerting control over your digital life. It’s a conversation moderated by Rich Fernandez of Google (an advisory board member of the magazine), with Arturo Bejar, director of engineering at Facebook and Irene Au, vice president of product and design at Udacity.
The connection of mindfulness to success and fulfillment in Silicon Valley is explored extensively in Wired, July 2013, by Noah Shachtman in “Enlightenment Engineers.” The article features such Valley luminaries as Bejar, and Google’s Chade-Meng Tan, author of Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace).
The Huffington Post in particular has been featuring mindfulness often, especially the recent first-person, meditation-focused blog post by Harvard Business School professor, and former Medtronic chairman and CEO Bill George, “The Tipping Point for Mindfulness.” For a post that is season-specific, try “Summer Mindfulness: 10 Exercises and Meditations,” by Joseph Cardillo, Ph.D., in Psychology Today.
Meditation is not the sole component to mindfulness. That is one of the takeaways from a terrific recent webinar with my friend Jeremy Hunter, a professor at the Drucker School whom I have written about previously;and Mirabai Bush, co-founder of The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society (and an adviser to Google’s Search Inside Yourself program). Jeremy also wrote the article “Is mindfulness good for business?” in the inaugural, April 2013 issue of Mindful. Viewing their conversation, and reading the other material in my post today, can provide convincing evidence that mindfulness is helpful for even the busiest, stressed person, at work and outside of it, in summer and year-round.
I enjoyed yesterday’s report by Lisa Napoli for NPR Morning Edition, Buddhist Meditation: A Management Skill? It features my friend Jeremy Hunter, a professor at the Drucker-Ito School in Claremont, Cal. He was one of the first people I met when I went to Claremont in 2002 to do research for my book, Living in More Than One World: How Peter Drucker’s Wisdom Can Inspire and Transform Your Life. Jeremy teaches mindfulness (including meditation) and self-management, geared to the needs and expectations of MBA students. I sat in on one of his classes in 2005. In 2010, he and Scott Scherer contributed a chapter, Knowledge Worker Productivity and the Practice of Self-Management, to the book The Drucker Difference.
Applying the principles of mindfulness to work, which I wrote about in early 2011, remains a hot topic. The MBA-oriented site Poets & Quants recently ran a three-part series by Deborah Knox, Train Your Mind, Improve Your Game: Meditation for the 21st-Century Leader. Workplace.com had a September 6 feature about mindfulness training and multitasking. The August 21 Chicago Tribune piece Be Mindful for a Better Workplace quotes Mirabai Bush, co-founder and Associate Director of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, who is interviewed in an extensive feature in transform, Mirabai Bush: The Work of Compassionate Action.
Bill George, the former CEO of Medtronic turned best-selling author and Harvard Business School professor, has given a considerable boost of credibility to mindfulness and meditation for the benefit of work. In particular, see his 2010 post about a two-day mindful leadership retreat. Having returned from Japan not long ago, I was interested to see Overcoming stress / Psychological, physical methods for mindfulness in The Daily Yomiuri Online on September 9. The British site Personneltoday.com ran Mindfulness: helping employees to deal with stress, on September 3.
There are also a lot of good mindfulness resources for work and beyond at mindful.org. In fact, there are so many good print and online resources about mindfulness that it is difficult to be sufficiently mindful when writing a blog post about mindfulness!
Many of us are pursuing goals, aspirations or resolutions for the current year, and probably on an ongoing basis. We need all the inner tools and resources we can get; techniques and methods that cut across boundaries and can be applied in different areas of life. Several recent articles and posts about mindfulness remind us that it can be a helpful tool for personal development, if applied well. They also demonstrate that it comes in many different forms: meditation, as part of therapy and as a way of approaching life. Mindfulness meditation is covered by Mark Vernon’s post in the Guardian, How to meditate: An introduction. Be sure to see the sidebar, How to meditate in 10 easy steps, which combines brief text and great graphics. The mindfulness in therapy angle, complete with reports of encouraging scientific studies, is covered in Dave McGinn’s Stressed out? Try mindfulness meditation, in the Globe and Mail, Melinda Beck’s Conquering Fear in the Wall Street Journal and Chris Woolston’s Mindfulness therapy is no fad, experts say in the Los Angeles Times. Nomi Morris’ story from the same source last October, Fully experiencing the present: a practice for everyone, religious or not, is an interview with the super-articulate Jon Kabat-Zinn, a major authority on mindfulness, and author of the classic Wherever You Go, There You Are. In 1998, I took a helpful and memorable day-long, interactive introduction to mindfulness and yoga workshop, with hundreds of other people, led by Kabat-Zinn, who gave a lecture the night before. Finally, and especially for business people and leaders, I recommend a book I reviewed in 2005 for USA TODAY, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee’s Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope and Compassion. Mindfulness is not the only focus, but it gives succinct descriptions, such as this: “Living mindfully means,” the authors write, “that we are constantly and consciously in tune with ourselves – listening carefully to our bodies, minds, hearts and spirits. The best among us consciously develop the capacity for deep self-awareness, noting and building on our understanding of our inner experiences.” In that sense, mindful living looks like a worthy aspiration on its own.
I am back home after five whirlwind days in Claremont, California; for the all-day event Drucker Day 2013, held last Saturday November 2nd, and to meet and reconnect with people for my second book: Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way: Developing and Applying a Forward Focused Mindset. Although the official publication date is November 22, the Huntley Bookstore of the Claremont Colleges arranged a book signing for me at Drucker Day, during the outdoor cocktail reception that ended the events.
Drucker Day this year was terrific, as it always is. I wrote about the event last year, and in previous years. Although the day is aimed especially at alumni, as well as current and prospective students of the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University; it is always a great tribute to the life and legacy of Peter Drucker, and a nonstop source of networking, information and inspiration for anyone seriously interested in Drucker-related studies.
The day before Drucker Day, I did a super-informal, one hour “Coffee With Bruce,” a small but intimate get-together and book discussion, at Hagelbarger’s. Whenever I am in Claremont, I enjoy spending time at this coffee shop/eatery/campus hangout across the street from the Drucker School, so it was a thrill to actually do an event there; even a low-keyed one. We had a nice mix of Drucker School administration, alumni and current students.
I’ll write more in my next post about the events of Drucker Day. In the meantime, check out a couple of new videos on the Drucker School site: Peter Drucker: An Enduring Legacy; from McMillen Media + Communications; and How to change your future: Jeremy Hunter at TEDxOrangeCoast. Jeremy, an Assistant Professor of Practice at the Drucker School, is a longtime friend whom I wrote about in the new book, and also in last year’s first post about Drucker Day 2012. Legacy and mindfulness (the topic of Jeremy’s talk) are ideal subjects to focus on for the rest of the weekend, and into the week ahead.
How can sustainability become a profitable source of innovation? And how can we go beyond economic and environmental sustainability to achieve social sustainability through individually flourishing lives? Those were some of the main themes of Drucker Day 2012, an all-day gathering I attended on November 10th at the Drucker-Ito School at the Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif. The event (which I also wrote about last year) serves many purposes: as a tribute to Peter Drucker, a coming together of alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the school for fellowship, food and networking; and to examine challenging topics of importance in business and society. This year included a panel presentation on sustainability in Costa Rica, with Gabriela Llobet, general director of Cinde; Roberto Mata, CEO of the carbon-neutral coffee cooperative Coopedota; and Carmen Irene Alas, who is based in El Salvador, as the Chief Editor of the magazine Estrategia y Negocios.
Jeremy Hunter, an assistant professor at the Drucker School whom I wrote about in the recent post Mindfulness at Work (and Beyond), was featured in two sessions. The first, Re-envisioning Sustainable Business: From Cost Advantage to Flourishing; was in the morning for the entire group, presented with Chris Laszlo, a visiting professor at Drucker who is based at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland. (I also enjoyed Laszlo’s afternoon breakout session The Sustainability Frontier: Embedding Sustainability into Strategy for Competitive Advantage, with Drucker School professor Vijay Sathe, who also moderated the Costa Rica panel.)
Jeremy led a participatory afternoon breakout session, Cultivating Your Resources: Building Resilience from the Inside Out. The idea was that living in today’s hyper-connected, perpetually busy world has given many of us stress levels that are too high, producing unsustainable lifestyles that are potentially harmful to social sustainability. He led our group in a brief meditation, while we remained in our seats in the classroom. It was structured around ways to discover internal resources (such as positive experiences, favorite places or pieces of music) and external ones, such as “values, beliefs and experience that sustain and nourish you.” The act of briefly thinking deeply about, and paying attention to one of these resources produced positive changes in both body and mind for many of us. Of course, most of us won’t have Jeremy to personally guide our future meditations. As with sustainability, it is up to us to put it into practice.
Matthew E. May delivers lots of timely and relevant information in The Laws of Subtraction: 6 Simple Rules for Winning in the Age of Excess Everything, his engaging new book about doing better work and living more productively and meaningfully. As the title suggests, Matt stresses the value of thoughtfully and strategically paying attention to what is not essential and can be eliminated; the creative importance of emptiness and negative space; and the power of intelligently working within constraints. This is his fourth book since 2006, on top of leading his own Los Angeles-based “ideas agency,” Edit Innovation, and lots of public speaking and blogging.
He has extensive experience working with Toyota, and one of the aspects I particularly enjoyed was the material on Japanese and Zen-based thought and action. It is helpful as I continue to reflect on my recent first time in Tokyo, where I spent a week making presentations about my book. And I am also honored to be one of the 54 “Silhouettes in Subtraction,” people who were invited to write one page each in his book about how subtraction has been important in our life and work. These include thought-provoking essays from the likes of author/executive Chip Conley, presentations guru Nancy Duarte and Little Bets author Peter Sims.
There are a number of captivating illustrations and pictures; appropriate for a book that is at least partially about design. Matt discusses how ideas become creative expression and how things can be and have been built better. You will also find in-depth looks into the creation of the Lexus brand within Toyota; the iconic FedEx logo; the Exhibition Road “shared space” street in London and the thought process that goes into comics, from an interview with Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art.
A premium is placed on things that are important yet difficult to achieve; such as reflection, quiet, calm and tranquility. On pages 192-198, he succinctly outlines some portals into these states; including mindfulness meditation, neurofeedback and retreats. These may not always be easy, yet the final one is certainly doable: “long, languid showers.”