“Be the saint in the room”

by | May 6, 2013 | Blog | 0 comments

Kind, happy and compassionate workplaces and leaders will be the norm, not the exception, in the next generation, predicted Google’s Jolly Good Fellow and best-selling author Chade-Meng Tan.

Meng, author of Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace), said he believes the mindfulness movement is where the fitness movement was in the 1980s.

Speaking at International House—Berkeley last week, Meng observed that conventional wisdom—supported by science—has evolved to recognize that regular and consistent physical fitness is critical for physical well-being.

Fast forward to this generation. More and more people now understand that mastery of emotional intelligence supports mental and spiritual well-being, which contributes to overall well-being.

This mastery is a skill-set that we can learn, develop and control. And by doing so, we can benefit in many ways, personally and professionally.

For example, by teaching ourselves to become more self-aware and by developing good mental habits, we can make these strides: Improve our focus. Be more creative. Reduce stress. Become more optimistic. Be more resilient. And the list goes on.

Just imagine what we can achieve together in a much more enjoyable way! Plus, we can make the path to change easier to navigate in our VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world.

Meng’s prediction is bold, yet achievable.

The signs are hopeful for kind, happy and compassionate workplaces that are also profitable and productive. Just look at the progress being made by those who haven’t yet entered the workforce or who have started working but aren’t yet in leadership roles.

Progressive schools, such as New York City’s Blue School and the Mindful Schools based in Oakland, are now educating students on how to master their emotions. And some MBA programs are testing for emotional intelligence, not just intellectual horsepower, as the Wall Street Journal  recently reported.

And then there’s Meng. He told us he’s the first Google engineer—award-winning at that—who’s transferred from engineering to human resources! As a member of the Google Talent Team, he has the responsibility to “enlighten minds, open hearts, create world peace.”

(As background, after he working as an award-winning engineer for Google since 2000, Meng created a groundbreaking mindfulness-based emotional intelligence course for Google employees. The course,  called Search Inside Yourself—the same name as his best-selling book—has transformed the work and lives of many of his co-workers.)

For those of us who are eager to accelerate the speed at which more workplaces convert into kind, happy and compassionate places, what steps can we take now? That’s the question I asked Meng.

His advice: “Be the saint in the room.”

He told us that the HR team has said that his constantly smiling face around the conference room table is positively influencing them and their work.

Being a saint though is easier said than done.

How do you turn your good intentions into consistent, powerful habits?

My suggestions include:

1. Learn how to master your own emotions through mindfulness and practice regularly before you expect any one else to change. Meng’s book is a great place to start. Meng and his work are very inspirational as well as practical. (The NeuroLeadership brain-based coaching program I took was also a big help in my journey.)

2. Recognize and praise others for their efforts to be more self-aware, clear, calm and compassionate. This encourages growth and personal development in others while making you feel better.

3. Stay calm and carry on when you see others  transgress, or you yourself slip. It’s hard to always be good in a bad world. If we can’t achieve perfection, we at least need to aim for progress.

With progress, we can support Meng in fulfilling his prediction and achieving success, happiness and world peace.

Will you join us to be workplace saints?


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