It’s by no means claiming a breakthrough in dealing with stress, but a new business in Scotland will be launched to a packed audience this week.
The Mindful Enterprise aims to encourage corporate leaders and executives to reflect as much on the strength of their own mind as spread-sheets and sales pitches in order to “positively transform individual and team business performance” – and life beyond the office.
Owner Gary Young and chairman Alister Gray, of the executive coaching business, Mindful Talent, are not only passionate about the effects of the process, they have data to prove it.
Mr Young, 41, is an Edinburgh-based father of one who has 23 years previous experience working in financial services, including 12 involved in strategic business change in the Scottish banking sector.
A wealth of research, including data produced by the Institute of Employment Studies (IES) shows how organisations as diverse as Google, Transport for London, the US military and BlueBay Asset Management have recorded positive outcomes as a result of employee participation in mindfulness.
Transport for London observed a 71% reduction in absence rates due to employee stress and anxiety while participant feedback in private sector businesses highlighted greater focus in meetings and ability to prioritise.
Mr Young is now encouraging members of Scotland’s corporate sector to explore the business and personal benefits of adopting a “mindful” approach in the office and everyday life.
He already works on mindfulness with business teams at KPMG and recycling business Changeworks and the social enterprise now wants to use its taster sessions, workshops and courses to engage other corporate businesses.
The sector has positively responded to an opportunity to attend a free mindfulness in the workplace event on Wednesday in Edinburgh. All tickets are now allocated for the evening at The Dome at which the guest speaker will be Martin Stepek, a mindfulness expert and author.
As Mr Young explained: “My motivation is to help people at work, in education and home to thrive and to live their best life.
“In the fast-paced, often stressful world of business, the simple power of mindfulness, focusing on the present, is often overlooked. Yet mindfulness has been shown to open the door for people to adopt more positive actions that will benefit the individual, their work, education and family.”
Reflecting a vision to ensure mindfulness becomes part of the core school curriculum in the years ahead, 20% of the company profits will go towards part-funding mindfulness courses in Scottish schools and to provide free training to disadvantaged young people and adults in impoverished communities in Scotland.
Since 2015, Mr Young has been further developing his business model and building an executive team. He has undertaken pilot programmes on mindfulness with S5/S6 groups at Larbert High in Stenhousemuir and Drummond Community High School in Edinburgh.
The social enterprise has also delivered a 7-week mindfulness course to (P5) pupils in Abbeyhill Primary School in the city.
Mr Young added: “Part of our business model is trying to team up corporate businesses with schools, to help part fund the mindfulness courses to pupils. With benefits to both the school and the business, this also presents a relatively low cost CSR opportunity for corporates.”
He has no doubt that his own life has been greatly influenced by the power of mindfulness. He grew up with a close family member who suffered from mental health problems and who spent many months being treated in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Consequently, during their adolescent years Young and his sister suppressed a lot of their own emotions.
It was only in his early 30’s, after throwing himself into a successful career and busy social life that Young began to recognise a need to re-evaluate his life and heal some ‘old wounds.’ He turned to meditation, a technique which had an immediate and transformative impact, led to new ways of behaving and thinking and igniting his passion to help others.
He hopes his engagement with the corporate sector will lead to greater implementation of mindfulness in schools and communities.
Mr Young said: “I want to see mindfulness recognised as a fundamental part of Scottish and global workplace culture, promoting improved health, wellbeing and optimal performance.”