“When you’re more skilled at working with your mind and mental states things go better for you, your people, your customers and other stakeholders, your family and friends. The only people to lose out are your competitors.”
Michael Chaskalson is a leading mindfulness expert and author of The Mindful Workplace, a book about the benefits of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) practice at work. He started out as an entrepreneur and now teaches meditation to business leaders around the UK and world. He told us about his daily practice and why he thinks that mindfulness leads to better leadership.
Why did you start meditating? What was your goal?
I started meditating in 1975. My goal was to understand things as they really are.
What is your meditation routine?
I sit every day for between 30 and 50 minutes first thing in the morning. On retreats I do very much more and I try to do at least 2 weeks of retreat each year. I guess it’s also important to say that historically there have been periods when I’ve meditated very much more each day than I do now.
Can you tell me a story about how meditation helps you become a better leader?
I think it’s very important to distinguish between mindfulness and meditation. I teach meditation as way of supporting mindfulness, but I attribute the changes people experience to changes in their level of mindfulness, not just to the fact that they’re meditating.
One leader, a very senior executive in a global investment bank, came to me after one of six sessions I’d led over the course of a year. He said: “You know, following the work we’ve been doing together I’ve come to realize that the way I previously treated my people was 180 degrees wrong. I thought I was doing the best for them, but I wasn’t. I’ve changed that now. I’m much more encouraging, much more allowing. Some of them have noticed that and I see that it’s beginning to impact positively on their performance.”
Do you think meditation gives you a competitive edge? Why?
When you’re more skilled at working with your mind and mental states, things go better for you, your people, your customers and other stakeholders, your family and friends. The only people to lose out are your competitors.