The business case for prayer
You aren’t supposed to talk about prayer in a business context. The mere mention of the word might offend someone. On the other hand, not talking about it is even more costly.
At its core, this is about how your mind works. It’s about how to build the capacity to focus on your work more effectively; it’s about why it has never been more important for you to dedicate intentional time away from the noise.
Here’s what I mean by prayer; dedicated time alone during which you offer thanks, ask for blessing/healing/peace/good things to others, be honest and say sorry for mess ups, and just be present.
Four and a half reasons
Here are 4.5 reasons you should take time to pray or meditate if you want to be good at your job.
- You suck at focus
- Your brain’s attention naturally constantly shifts from object to object, idea to idea. Researchers call this ‘the wandering mind.’
- It takes particular effort and discipline for us to gain cognitive control over our wandering mind. You must voluntarily and consistently disengage from the newest object of desire and focus instead on some greater goal.
- Nothing, not one thing, is a better predictor of financial success than your ability to exercise cognitive control (check out the Stanford marshmallow experiment).
The great news? We can actually train our brains to improve focus. BUT, it takes training. Prayer/meditation is the best way to do it.
Less Me, More You.
While the wandering mind is quite inept at focusing on most things, it’s actually quite good at focusing on one thing in particular. Me. That’s right. I’m a professional at thinking all about me. You are too. And that’s simply a bad business decision.
As Zig Ziglar says “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” Prayer (or meditation) is a wonderful tool to get your mind off you and put it on others.
The World is Coming to an End!
Sometimes work sucks. You lose a client. You totally botch up a project. You send an email to the customer that was meant for colleague.
Prayer and meditation are wonderful tools for providing perspective. This morning I prayed for a client whose son-in-law took his own life. I prayed for people in the Philippines.
In both cases, I’m just not sure it makes a difference, but I am certain that it keeps my work in perspective.
This does two things for me:
- Keeps me from flipping out when work doesn’t work. That means a faster recovery and better work relationships.
- Connects me to the why of my work. Part of my time in prayer is used to ground me to the why of life, which ensures my day is spent on that stuff.
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You
People like happy people. Happy people make more money. Happy people have more friends. Happy people reduce turnover at your company. You know what makes people happy? Gratitude. As Greek philosopher Cicero said, ‘Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others.’
It’s time to think about prayer and meditation as a potentially neglected, but much needed tool for your success.