Guest Post: The Case for Meditative HR

I lived in Belgium for two years when I was young(er) and single. It was without out a doubt one of the most influencial experiences of my career…certainly of my life. So I will always have a special place in my soul for that little power house…NATO, EU Headquarters, cosmopolitan to quaint, and 450+ beers. Come on, seriously, what country on this planet can compete with that? Stéphane OLIVIER is the Human Resources Director of two public hospitals in Belgium and I love the message he brings us today. He touches on something I’m awful at and he puts something on this platform I never have or could: the mystical. Dig it…this really is a great post! 

Financial intelligence, HR 2.0, human capital management, employer branding… On blogs, books, podcasts, we hear about countless HR tools and theories. I am convinced that they can help us become better professionals. But I have come to the conclusion that one of the most enlightening theories an HR professional can learn, one of the most powerful tools we can use, could be one that is much more commonplace in Tibetan monasteries than in business schools or corporate boardrooms. I am thinking about meditation.

Strengthen Your Brain

Meditation can be religious, but it doesn’t have to. It can be defined as a sort of mental workout: when we meditate, we strengthen our brain.A regular practice of meditation helps us develop various abilities that can be extremely useful for anybody, but especially for HR professionals. They fall into two categories: mindfulness and altruism.

Although I have very few things in common with a Buddhist monk (I’m not even bold!), I will try to define those terms and how they relate to our practice of HR.

Realize What You Are Doing and Feeling

Mindfulness is about using concentration to reach an acute consciousness about our present state of mind: What am I doing at the moment? How am I feeling? What does it mean to me? It is also about understanding that all emotions are temporary. They are like clouds passing in the sky: OK, I feel depressed at the moment, but this morning I was almost euphoric, so maybe I will feel better in a few hours.

We are living in a time of multitasking, we try to have lunch and follow a conversation and send a tweet at the same time. As HR leaders, we are constantly jumping from one of Ulrich’s roles to another. We juggle with twenty tasks an hour, many of them being emotionally quite demanding.

So, having a few deep breaths and taking a few minutes to think about what we are doing can certainly help.

I Care for You, So I Feel Better

Altruism is about realizing that my own well-being is tightly linked to other people’s happiness. It means that everyone, just like me, would like to get rid of their sufferings even if, to reach that goal, they are using the wrong tactics and might thus engage in bad behavior.

It is a very powerful attitude, and a very relevant one if you consider that HR is responsible for promoting the quality of the work relationship. Plus, who is going to advocate for altruism if HR doesn’t?

If you want to learn more about meditation, you might be interested in a book called “Why Meditate: Working with Thoughts and Emotions”, by Mathieu Ricard.

And if you already practice meditation and have noticed a positive impact on your work in HR, I would love to receive your input.

~Stéphane, as you can see, likes to share book recommendations with other HR professionals and often blogs on HR Book of The Month.  Follow him on Twitter (@HRbooks) and Linkedin

Image Credit: AlicePopkorn – on retreat (via Compfight)

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