Mindful Business #Big Profits
by Gina Simmons, Ph.D.
The Wall Street, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, credo of business is giving way to the mindfulness and social responsibility is good for business credo. Etsy.com, a global marketplace for people seeking to buy and sell handmade crafts and vintage items, lists their corporate values as: mindful, humane and transparent. Matthew Stinchcomb, Etsy’s VP of values and impact, says in a recent interview with Mindful magazine, “We are mindful of the relationship we have with our consumers, one another, and with the planet.” He goes on to say that, “if any one of our stakeholders is failing, we’re all failing, conversely if we make our customers successful, that makes us successful too.” With 40 million global customers visiting their site each month, mindfulness looks mighty profitable.
What is mindfulness? It’s paying attention to the present moment, on purpose, without judging that moment. So if you’re eating mindfully, you focus your mind, on purpose, to the process of applying fork to food, to mouth, to chewing, to swallowing, without judging it as good/bad, fattening/not fattening, etc. When you act mindfully you feel calmer, notice more, and the experience of eating feels more fulfilling.
How can mindfulness help you increase your profits? Recent research shows many ways that mindfulness improves human behavior. Mindfulness enhances performance, fosters creativity, and improves job satisfaction, according to Mindfulness researcher, Ellen Langer. She suggests that one way managers can increase their mindfulness is to imagine that your thoughts are totally transparent. You might be less likely to think hostile or critical thoughts of others and try to find a way to understand them.
Businesses running leaner these days tend to expect more from fewer employees. Workers feel overburdened. Stressed out workers are distracted and less effective. But stress is more a function of the way you look at events. You leap to future thinking, “if I can’t meet these new responsibilities I will get fired,” and then, “if I get fired it will be disastrous.” Instead it helps to think, “what can I do now, in this moment to be productive.” If the fear of losing your job torments you, Langer recommends that you think of five reasons that you won’t lose your job, then think of five benefits you can gain from losing your job. See it as an opportunity, not a catastrophe.
Mindfulness practices in business can increase employee self-motivation. When managers takes the time to notice each employee’s motivational style, talents, skills and goals, they can better structure jobs to increase morale, motivation and creativity. Mindful managers who take the time to understand their employees as individuals, get better results.
The new science of motivation shows three psychological needs that motivate everyone: Autonomy, or the freedom of choice. Relatedness, or the feeling of belonging to, caring about, and being cared for. Competence, or the need to feel that we are good at something. Some of us are more motivated by the social aspects of our work environment. Others get a charge out of being creative and autonomous. Many find their motivation from the satisfaction of a job well done. Knowing what motivates each employee requires mindful attention.
Businesses poised for growth in the new economy can gain profits, improve morale and better serve their customers by adopting mindfulness practices. Take a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course, provide space in the office for mindfulness breaks, start meetings with a moment of mindfulness, and offer incentives to employees for practicing mindfulness. You may see your profits rise along with your health and well-being.
photo courtesy of Scott Robinson.