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The rare business case for prayer or meditation at work

We’re never supposed to talk about religion at work, but privately reflecting can be a tremendous asset to your professional life and success – let’s examine the business case for this argument.

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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.

  1. You suck at focus
  2. Your brain’s attention naturally constantly shifts from object to object, idea to idea. Researchers call this ‘the wandering mind.’
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. Keeps me from flipping out when work doesn’t work. That means a faster recovery and better work relationships.
  2. 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.

Curt Steinhorst loves attention. More specifically, he loves understanding attention. How it works. Why it matters. How to get it. As someone who personally deals with ADD, he overcame the unique distractions that today’s technology creates to start a Communications Consultancy, The Promentum Group, and Speakers Bureau, Promentum Speakers, both of which he runs today. Curt’s expertise and communication style has led to more than 75 speaking engagements in the last year to organizations such as GM, Raytheon, Naval Academy, Cadillac, and World Presidents’ Organization.

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How employers should react to the new age discrimination court ruling

(BUSINESS NEWS) A court case that could likely land in the Supreme Court is one that all employers should react to and prepare for.

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In January, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that then 58-year-old Dale Kleber did not get protection against age discrimination from CareFusion as a job applicant.

For employers, there are some important takeaways. Namely, that Kleber v CareFusion does not give employers open season to only hire young workers.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects employees against age discrimination. There are also protections against disparate treatment under ADEA.

Basically, employers cannot intentionally discriminate against aged applicants. When posting a job, that means you should never advertise for someone under the age of 40 when posting job descriptions.

While Federal law may not apply to older applicants, the Texas Labor Code,  for example prohibits discrimination against people over 40 years of age. Employers should be very aware of inequity throughout the hiring process, whether you’re looking at internal or external candidates. You do not want to be a test case for age discrimination.

How can you avoid violating ADEA and other applicable laws?

First, you should work with your legal counsel and HR department to make sure you are following the law. If you are accused of age discrimination, you should talk to your lawyer before responding. It’s a serious complaint that you shouldn’t try to answer on your own.

Next, go through your job postings to make them age-neutral unless there is a reason for hiring someone under the age of 40. The legal term for this is Bona Fide Occupational Definition. The qualifications can’t be arbitrary. There must be industry standards that determine a definable group of employees cannot perform the job safely.  

Words in applications matter. Don’t ask for GPA or SAT scores. Avoid things like “digital native,” “high-energy,” or “overqualified.” These terms indicate that you’re looking for someone young.  

You should also update application forms that request birthdays or graduation dates. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, you should structure interviews around skill sets, not personal information.

Train those responsible for hiring about the current laws in your state.

Make your managers aware of bias, both conscious and unconscious. It’s not age discrimination that runs afoul of the law, and you must be prepared to confront any situation where it occurs.

Talk about age bias and discrimination in your workplace. Don’t assume that older workers aren’t tech savvy or that they don’t want to keep their skills current. Instead of putting generations against each other, have a multigeneration workplace.

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Cities are fighting back against the motorized scooter companies

(BUSINESS NEWS) The scooter wars are on, and major cities are filled with them – residents and government are finally fighting back.

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When the scooter-pocalypse began, it seemed to come out of nowhere. One day, the most annoying thing in downtown traffic was maybe a pedicab, and then the next: a swarm of zippy electric razor scooters.

This sudden arrival was by design: companies like Lime and Uber’s JUMP simply just began offering their services. There was no negotiation with the city, no opportunity even for residents to say whether or not the scooter pick-up stations could be located in front of their houses—just a sudden horde of scooters (for the record, this do-it-first and then ask permission approach was replicated in all major cities across the United States).

Was this illegal? Nope. There was nothing on the law books about the rental scooter technology so there was technically nothing wrong with the companies just assuming that they could do what they wanted. (Some scooterists have since come to think the same thing, committing crimes and breaking rules.)

Now, enough time has passed for cities to have the opportunity to fight back, as a new year of legislative sessions has begun. San Francisco is one such community, which determined that only permitted companies could operate within the city limits—and, surprise, many of the don’t-ask-permission companies were not given these permits.

Lime, blocked from operating, filed a suit against the city saying that they had been discriminated against based on their … rude … arrival.

A judge has since ruled that there was no bias in the city’s review of the permit applications that were later not awarded to Lime.

As the legislation and the lawsuits play out over the next year, it will be interesting to see if the scooter company’s attitudes toward the cities they operate in change.

If, as they have said all along, they desire to be the next major innovation in urban infrastructure, then they need to be prepared to work with and grow alongside the communities that they inhabit.

It would be a wise move, then, to partner with local governments to ensure that both organizations are working in the best interest of the populations that they serve. 

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One state could make it illegal to ask a job applicant’s age, graduation dates

(CAREER) A recent court ruling makes ageism against job applicants legal, but at least one state is taking action.

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In late 2018, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled 8-4 that Congress intended the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) to only cover current employees, not job applicants during late 2018 with the case Kleber v. CareFusion Inc.

The verdict seemed to confirm what many older applicants have experienced: while they may have the necessary qualifications for a position they are often overlooked for younger candidates. The confirmed legality of such dishonorable bias is disheartening.

One state is stepping up to rectify this practice: Connecticut. Democratic Reps. Derek Slap of West Hartford and Robyn Porter of New Haven have proposed legislation that would fight ageism in hiring processes by making it illegal for employer to ask applicants for their dates of birth or school graduation dates.

According to the Hartford Courant, when asked about the legislation’s intention, Rep. Slap replied that such questions, “allow employers to vet our seniors before they even go in to their job interview.”

Candidates who may be older and entering the job market should keep their wits about them. While they are creating and reviewing their resumes and cover letters, they should reach out to other people in their field and make sure that they aren’t using dated conventions.

If they are pressed to provide information that indicate their ages during in-person interviews. Even if the questions are technically legal, applicants can try to assuage fears of being out-of-touch wit current market trends or technology by coming prepared to the discussion ready to highlight recent projects or experiences that illustrate on-the-pulse market fluency.  (For more tips on how to deal with these kind of awkward situations, check out this article.)

The initiative that Connecticut has taken in addressing this problem is likely to inspire more lawmakers across the country to follow suit.

But we don’t have to wait for it to be illegal for people to understand that this practice is unfair. If you are not an older candidate but an existing employee (and therefore covered by laws that say age discrimination is illegal), keep an eye out for how you, your colleagues, and your company speak about more experienced workers.  Sometimes the quickest way to change harmful practices is by having a direct conversation about an uncomfortable topic. 

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