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Lions Roar : July 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2011 42 The education system rewards people for being supersmart, but it doesn’t really develop wisdom. That’s sorely lacking.” Crabb notes that the “continuous stream of stimuli” that is the daily reality for tech workers, not to say the population at large, is a dangerous drug. “It looks like it’s very powerful and enabling but it also has the possibility of permanently derailing someone.” Over the past year, Facebook has been adding about one hun- dred employees a month. Twitter has more than doubled its workforce. In this kind of growth environment, says Crabb, “Everyone needs to know the difference between sprinting and pausing. It’s very hard to talk about work–life balance to the generation of people who make up our workforce. It’s a big blur for them. That’s how it is for our founder. It doesn’t resonate if you try to tell them that they’re running a mara- thon, not a sprint, because at this rate they’ll be sprinting for a while. What we can teach them is the value of the pause. They have to break up their sprint into sprints.” Facebook leaders don’t dictate how long an employee’s work sprint should be, or their cor- responding pause, or when and how it should happen. They know employees are the best judges of what they need. “People who end the year without having taken a vacation are not he- roes here,” Crabb says. “If you take time to figure out what the pause looks like for you and you take it, you will come back more refreshed and ready for the next sprint. And there will be one. If you don’t take the time to pause, you’re going to burn out and we’re going to lose you before we’ve got the best of who you are.” Rich Fernandez, head of learning and organizational develop- ment at eBay, sees mindfulness practice as the best way for peo- ple to recognize the value of pausing and regulating themselves so they can make the best decisions. He talks about it as a form of “positive disruption,” because it interrupts “our default mecha- nism of doing more, more, more. We think there’s a linear rela- tionship between time spent working and results, but so often the time away, the stop to rest, the long cup of tea, following our breath, replenishes us and brings insight. That’s what the neuro- science is telling us too. Yet our paradigms for leadership usually reinforce the linear approach—it’s about there and then, where you’re going, rather than how you are being. We are a values- based company, and our first value is to keep it human. When we get away from that, we need to positively disrupt the paradigm.” Fernandez has been pleasantly surprised by how workers, when given a chance, take to having a real pause, and the com- pany supports that. “When we do mindfulness talks, we pull em- ployees away from the line for an hour and a half at a time. I saw 250 employees at an internet company sitting still for a talk for almost ninety minutes and then doing ten minutes of mindful- ness practice. No one got up and left.” Michelle Gale is a mindfulness practitioner and coach who works full-time in Twitter’s leadership and development depart- ment. Gale says her department’s goal is “having wisdom practices be the underpinning of employee work life, so everyone feels they are growing personally and professionally. The Twitters, Face- books, Googles, and eBays of the world are run by very soulful It’s important to start with people’s genuine motivation, from their heart. We want them to tap into their intrinsic motivation, rather than what their company or boss wants them to work on. PAM WEISS, EXECUTIVE COACH The Technology Panel at Wisdom 2.0 (left to right): Roshi Joan Halifax, Kevin Rose (founder, digg.com), Eric Shiermeyer (cofounder, Zynga), Chris Sacca (strategic adviser, Twitter), Bradley Horowitz (vice president, Google) PHOTOBYRUCHACHITNISPHOTOBYJULIANCASH