Anyone who works for a living knows that stress in the modern workplace is a major cause of physical, mental, emotional and financial anguish––for both employees and employers. The causes of stress, of course, are endless, but some of the most common factors include heavy workloads, lack of control or support, insufficient experience or training, worries about job security, harassment, poor working conditions and ineffective management.
In the face of the inevitable pain, suffering and financial cost that stress produces, how can corporate America heal its condition?
Consider two options. First, businesses could continue to employ outdated, expense-laden and resource-draining tactics. Problematic individuals would still be fired and exorbitant financial resources would continue to be squandered in replacing the frustrated, creative people who move on to more rewarding jobs. Or second, businesses could train all their workers (from top to bottom) to become more healthy, mentally flexible, responsible and creative through meditation and its allied practices. This option would greatly enhance the business’s bottom line.
To point out the risks and benefits of both options I’d like to share the following excerpt from the book, Spontaneous Evolution, by Dr. Bruce Lipton. Dr. Lipton’s analogy is focused on the problems associated with modern medicine, but I bring it to your attention because it applies equally to the current crisis in corporate America.
“Assume I sell you my 4-speed stick-shift Pontiac,” Dr Lipton begins, “but you really don’t know how to drive a car with a manual transmission. After the deal is done, I give you the keys and you drive away––the car lurching and bucking. Several days later you call and tell me the car is sick; it has a bad clutch. You bring the car to the mechanic, and after a quick physical diagnosis, he comes to the same conclusion: the car is suffering from clutch dysfunction that requires a clutch transplant. A new clutch is purchased from the parts dealer (the equivalent of the automotive pharmacy) and installed.
“Two weeks later, you return to the car doctor and surprisingly he tells you that you’ve had a relapse. Now the new clutch is also failing. Upon further examination of the car the mechanic reveals that you are apparently experiencing a common malady known as CCD or chronic clutch dysfunction. The bottom line: you need another transplant. This process is then repeated every few weeks, and you have become resigned to the fact that your vehicle is a lemon and this troublesome situation is your fate in life.
“Even though the mechanic sees this problem as a physical failure inherent in the vehicle, as time wears on he reads new research that implicates the role and influence of a driver’s mind in all known occurrences of chronic clutch dysfunction. With this new knowledge, the mechanic once again repairs the clutch and then educates the driver by teaching him how to drive a standard shift. Consequently, we now understand that the problem was never with the vehicle, but with the driver!”
The solution for learning how to drive a stick shift and how to handle stress in the workplace is the same: driver education. You can cause a lot of damage behind the wheel of a car you haven’t learned to drive, but with appropriate training, you can develop a reliable global skill. In the business world, there’s also a driver––a mind––inside every worker, and that mind desperately needs driver education to override its old, unconscious, unskillful habits. Meditation and its allied practices constitute the training that can enhance the health, performance and leadership qualities of the modern American workforce. As a consequence, business will not only profit, it will thrive.