If you have been keeping up with the current business and psychological literature, the terms "mindfulness" and "well-being" have been popping up a lot lately. Or maybe you have just been hearing the word "Zen" on your favorite morning talk show more than usual. So is this just another fad that will come and go like the last one? According to Ginny Whitelaw, author of The Zen Leader, this centuries-old practice of awareness and mindfulness can be the key for us to unlock our full potential.
Whitelaw is certainly not alone in seeing the importance of these trending topics. In the current issue of Monitor on Psychology, an American Psychology Association publication, they highlighted the depth of empirical research that has linked mindfulness to a host of benefits such as reduced rumination and stress, boosts in working memory, increased ability to focus, less emotional reactivity, and increased relationship satisfaction. One particularly interesting study found that people who practice mindfulness develop a skill to neurologically disengage the automatic pathways that were created by prior learning, enabling present-moment input to be integrated in a new way. Basically, mindfulness leads to more cognitive flexibility and overall adaptability.
Mindfulness has also repeatedly been connected to well-being, which in itself has been shown to be very valuable. This past February, the Harvard Business Review featured several articles that highlighted the importance of well-being. Martin Seligman’s field of positive psychology continues to grow in popularity and has been linked to a lengthy list of business benefits. The American Society of Training and Development recently reported on a study that found well-being has corporate bottom line implication. They found that compared to their low well-being counterparts, those with high well-being had 41% lower health-related cost, a difference of $2,993 per employee. In addition, they found that high well-being employees have 35% lower turnover rates. They concluded that for every 10,000 employees with low well-being, these two combined account for a $49.5 million cost to the company.
This is precisely why Dr. Whitelaw’s new book, The Zen Leader, is so important. In today’s world, we need leaders who have more self-insight, more morality, can better regulate stress and fear, are better at building and maintaining relationships, are better able to focus attention amidst distractions and are more cognitively flexible. The good news is that we can all get there and The Zen Leader can help. In the words of Ginny Whitelaw, “Flip by flip, you unfold the dynamic, boundless capacity that is the Zen leader in you.” See for yourself by taking a glimpse inside.