America’s favorite CEO credits a “quiet mind”

America’s favorite CEO this year, according to jobs website Glassdoor, was Bain & Co.s Bob Bechek. Glassdoor’s yearly top 50 is a survey of more than 2 million employee reviews – giving it the creds to be reported in the Wall St Journal.

Hundreds of voluntary and anonymous employee evaluations gave Mr Bechek a 99% approval rating – which must have the man feeling more than a little chuffed.

The Journal quotes a speech Mr Bechek gave at Oxford University last year where he said his leadership success was due, in part, to a ‘quiet mind’. “I always had this ability to just breathe, and to remain calm in a crisis,” he said.

Quiet mind is the essence of yoga, mindfulness, meditation, the essence of the many techniques from the East now crowding the Western health-and-wellness marketplace.

Many applaud the increasing emphasis on stress-management in the workplace. Google offers meditation rooms, for example (Google’s past and present CEOs made the top 10 favorites in 2015 and 2016) and other companies have work-based yoga classes and encourage coloring in during breaks. They’re improvements that have those of us who value a quiet mind feeling positive.

But there’s also valid cynicism, concern that tossing a little Tantra into the work day is an attempt to compensate for overly stressful corporate cultures.

The Sydney Morning Herald quotes Professor of Work and Health at the University of Sydney faculty of health sciences, Philip Bohle, saying he has “mixed feelings about mindfulness and stress-management approaches being adopted in the corporate sector”.

He says: “Rather than just focusing on a worker’s resilience, which is a good thing, we need to have a look at the underlying organizational causes: excessive demands and stressful work. Just finding ways to make workers more resilient to cope better with stress and demands is like putting a Band-Aid on that.”

The SMH also quotes psychotherapist Zoe Krupka, who teaches at the Cairnmillar Institute in Melbourne. Krupta says in the past, most patients sought help for relationship issues. Now it’s likely to be job stress.

“If you are trying to meditate to manage the stress of a working environment that is untenable, it is not going to help you in the long term and is going to be harmful,” she said. “For the woman in the situation of domestic violence, mindfulness and yoga can be very helpful, but she still has to get out of danger.”

And that, I believe, is the power of the practices. Having embraced mindfulness, or a meditation practice, or found the type of yoga that gets you focused and tranquil, you have what you need to make better choices about where you want to work.

Or, as a favorite yoga teacher of mind always said “meditation – it’s not just for enlightenment anymore!” It might just help you see the way out of an abusive situation, whether it’s a bad relationship, or unrealistic demands at work.

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