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Lions Roar : September 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2008 63 Marturano was introduced to mindfulness meditation five years ago and since then has spearheaded an effort to bring the practice to General Mills. To date, employees at all levels—in- cluding more than eighty vice presidents and directors—have participated in mindfulness programs ranging from a half-day to seven weeks. Those who have completed a multiday program are supported through a listserv, drop-in weekly meditation sessions, extended bimonthly sessions, and a multiday deepen- ing session focused on communication and compassion. General Mills’ human resources department does not offer or announce these programs. Instead, participants have been so moved by the impact of mindfulness training on their work that news of the programs has spread completely by word of mouth. One key factor contributing to the programs’ success is that they are secular. Indeed, most of the organizations and businesses that are successfully sharing mindfulness practices are doing so in a non-Buddhist context. Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline and director of the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL), says that SoL doesn’t link what it does to Buddhism because most people see Buddhism as a religion, and SoL isn’t a religious organization. It is, rather, a non-profit network dedicated to creating innovative ways of man- aging businesses. That said, one of the key concepts that SoL fo- cuses on—how mind creates the world we perceive—could easily be referred to as Buddhism 101. Senge, however, generally refers to this concept as “mental models.” mindfulness training to improve the conduct of inmates and to reduce recidivism has inspired a growing number of pris- on policy makers to embrace mindfulness training. But while mindfulness practiced on a wide scale could potentially reduce expenditures on corrections, more research is required to con- vince policy makers that meditation is a practical, rehabilitative option, rather than an inappropriate privilege for criminals. Organizational Leadership Colin Powell once said, “Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you ac- complish great deeds.” But are these best people outside of our- selves, or can we accomplish great deeds by drawing the best out of ourselves, by drawing the best out of the team we already have? More and more leaders are saying that the best is within us, and that mindfulness is a powerful means to help us discover it. How does mindfulness help us and our organizations per- form better? Janice Marturano, who has been a vice president of General Mills for the past decade, explains it this way: “Lead- ers today are faced with global economies, time measured in Internet seconds, and a future that is increasingly interdepen- dent—challenges that require leaders to use all of their capa- bilities, including the innate abilities of mindfulness. Yet, we are not usually taught to cultivate the brain’s ability to be pres- ent, to be focused, to be less reactive, to listen deeply.” ➢ page 106 Right: A discussion among members of the Society for Organizational Learning; above: “How do we move from personal vision to shared vision?” asks a flow chart from a SoL meeting; above right: executive coach and mindfulness meditator Amy Fox leads a workshop. SEPT 56-63.indd 63 SEPT 56-63.indd 63 7/3/08 1:32:09 PM 7/3/08 1:32:09 PM