Psychology Melbourne Blog

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A plea for mindful leadership

Edited by Jill Wright,

I was fascinated by the aptness of one quote in a recent article in the Financial Times on the way major companies in high-finance world of the City of London are embracing mindfulness training as a way to relieve stress and improve clarity of thinking.With recent articles in the Financial Times and Harvard Business Review giving much more credibility to the benefits of Mindfulness training,

The quote was from Sally Boyle, head of human capital management for Emea at Goldman Sachs. “In years to come," she said, "we’ll be talking about mindfulness as we talk about exercise now.”

In fact, one of the findings of more than three decades of research into mindfulness is that a key mechanism in inducing mindfulness states of consciousness is self-regulation of attention.

And there is a good deal of support for the contention that self-control operates in the same way as a muscle, and that regular exercise improves its strength and function.

Another quote came from Dr Ellen Langer, a pioneer in the study of creative mindfulness - a slightly different take on the meditative style of mindfulness, about whom I have written previously.

In an article in the Harvard Business Review as part of as series on the future of leadership, Langer said: "It’s nice to imagine a company where everyone is mindful. But it will take some time to achieve the ideal even if possible.

"Meanwhile, we need leaders whose major, perhaps only task is to promote mindfulness in those around them. By learning how to exploit the power of uncertainty maybe all of us will wake up."

Psychology Melbourne's mindfulness training is a great way for managers and staff to wake up, find that "muscle" and exercise it.

Another quote I came across recently is from Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist and ethicist at New York University's Stern School of Business, and author of
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.

Haidt's rhetorical question is this: "Suppose you read about a pill that you could take once a day to reduce anxiety and increase your contentment. Would you take it? Suppose further that the pill has a great variety of side effects, all of them good: increased self-esteem, empathy, and trust; it even improves memory.

"Suppose, finally, that the pill is all natural and costs nothing. Now would you take it? The pill exists. It is mindfulness meditation."

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About the editor, Jill Wright

Jill Wright (MAPS, AAFT, AICD) is the Director and Principal Psychologist at Psychology Melbourne. Jill was twice elected General Director of the Australian Psychological Society and established the Study Group Network. Find out more about Jill Wright.