Many of us know firsthand that the knowledge economy values how well we use our minds more than how many things we make each hour. It’s ideas we need. Invention. Innovation. Creativ- ity. That’s the fuel of our rapidly changing global economy, yet the work world still largely operates on old notions of productivity: work faster, think faster, and use as many tech tools as you can to increase your efficiency. People skills, even in this age of “emotional intelligence,” are more expected than cultivated. And the idea that the workplace could (and should) be a place where people flourish and develop sets heads nodding in agreement, but are we really making that happen?
After teaching executives in MBA programs about mindfulness for over a decade, I’m convinced that productive human action is about much more than getting stuff done. My students and I have tried to explore the underlying drivers of real productiv- ity, which go way beyond better, faster information technology. It seems to us now that beyond cloud computers and brilliant smartphones, the secret to productivity lies within and between us. It’s about a calmer, more open and undistracted mind, greater self-awareness, and an enhanced capacity for self- transformation—not to mention disciplined passions and stronger human relationships.
This isn’t exactly a new idea. Long before it be- came a topic at sold-out Silicon Valley conferences, mindfulness was identified as a business need. It just didn’t go by that name. ...
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