Will Meditation Kill our Company’s Edge?
When you’re in business or in sales, one of your most valuable assets is your memory. Things like remembering a client’s name, their kids’ names, remembering data and products, evidence and research. It’s what gives you your edge in a client meeting. So, it makes sense that for your mind to perform at its peak, you need to train it to maintain equanimity in all situations.
“In a high-stress situation, like an important sales pitch… your adrenal glands release cortisol and you go into fight or flight mode.”
I deliver a range of corporate workshops aimed at helping companies give their people the tools and know-how to recharge their brains, using my knowledge of psychology and neuroscience. One tool I teach is meditation. Now, some of you may be thinking, ‘Doesn’t meditation mellow us out, slow us down, and stifle that killer instinct we need for sales performance? How could slowing down sharpen my focus?’
In a high-stress situation, like an important sales pitch, the amygdala (the part of your brain that detects fear) activates the sympathetic nervous system, your adrenal glands release cortisol and you go into fight or flight mode. The hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for regulating memory) has cortisol receptors that sit all over it, like a chocolate freckle, which light up during high stress and switch off our memory. It’s part of our programming for survival. Switch off the memory to allow the emotions to take over.
What we find is that organisations operate at a frenetic pace, often at the expense of wellbeing, engagement and productivity. The research is alarming. According to the Medibank Better Health Index Quarterly Report back in 2017, one quarter of all employees will get a mental health condition. That’s one in every four co-workers in your office; 25%! Add to that, absenteeism cost $14.1B in 2017.
Roy Morgan’s 2008 report into The Cost of Workplace Stress, Medibank, stated there was a 200% increase in anxiety. That was 11 years ago, and my prediction is that figure has continued to climb.
So, what’s the business case for companies to invest in psychological wellbeing? Price Waterhouse Coopers research shows the average return on investment in creating a mentally healthy workplace is $2.30 for every $1. Take a moment to absorb that figure. Research from 2009 by Oswald, Proto and Sigori showed there is a 30% difference in productivity between high- and low-wellbeing employees.
Techniques like mindfulness and meditation teach us to draw the line between constructive stress and useless worrying. They teach us to block out the mind clutter and focus in on what we need to at that moment. They enable us to become aware that when we are constantly striving and worrying about the future, we make our suffering worse than we need to. There is a reason why mindfulness and meditation are being adopted by marines, leading organisations and athletes!
Meditation increases the blood circulation of your brain, improves your planning capacity, memory and focus, and relieves stress. It requires no equipment, can be practiced almost anywhere, and doesn’t take long. In fact, 10-20 minutes of meditation or mindfulness can improve your entire day.
Teaching your team how to meditate (effectively) and allowing them to build it into their daily routine can really benefit mental health, productivity and reduce absenteeism.