Dan Goleman Cuts Through The Hype About Mindfulness - eqsummit.com

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Dan Goleman Cuts Through The Hype About Mindfulness

In Part 1 of this revealing interview, Dr. Martyn Newman discusses Mindfulness with the Godfather of Emotional Intelligence–Dan Goleman

 

Dr. Martyn Newman:

Thanks very much Dan for taking the time to join me today to discuss your keynote ahead of this years Emotional Intelligence Summit London May 25th.

Dan needs no introduction, he is the author of a library of books including ‘Emotional Intelligence’ which has achieved the status of a classic text in psychology and been named by Time Magazine as one of the 25 most influential business management books.

It seems long overdue that we have you at this year’s EQ Summit as we have had some mutual friends at previous Summits; Paul Ekman and Eve Ekman as well as Alan Wallace so it’s great to have you with us this year.

Dan Goleman:

Well Martyn I am really looking forward to it and I thank you for inviting me.

Dr. Martyn Newman:

This year’s Summit explores this fascinating topic of Emotional Intelligence, Mindfulness and in particular how these skills contribute to Creativity and Innovation. I know you are a busy man and receive lots of invitations, so what is it about the EQ Summit this year that attracts you to this conference? And why do you think it’s so important that people should be there?

Dan Goleman:

Well for me the timing is really fortuitous. I just completed with my friend and neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin Richard Davidson what amounts to the definitive review of all of the studies ever done on mindfulness. And what they tell us about how mindfulness can help us in our own lives, in our work lives and as leaders. And what strikes me is that this specific kind of mental training adds something which is really new in the workplace and I am really thrilled that your Summit has chosen this as a topic as it couldn’t be better timing from my point of view.

Dr. Martyn Newman:

That’s great. I was actually having lunch with Richard Davidson in Thailand last year interestingly and I spoke to him about the evidence for the effectiveness of mindfulness and meditation on mental health. I remember he said to me that “there is nothing soft about this data at all” with a great deal of conviction.

“We …sifted through 6000 studies to find 60… that are state of the art.”

Dan Goleman:

Well yes, but what he didn’t say is that we had to sift through about 6,000 studies to find the 60 or so that are really state of the art from a methods point of view. We focussed on what the very best studies tell us about meditation and Mindfulness because I also have to say that there is a lot of hype. There is a lot of pure marketing going on around Mindfulness where claims are made that aren’t really supported. Including incidentally some of Davidson’s own research which he has has now disavowed. So stay tuned for what the latest news is.

Dr. Martyn Newman:

That is fascinating. What I also find fascinating is that your interest in Mindfulness and meditation actually predated your interest in Emotional Intelligence. You wrote your first book actually on meditation “The Meditative Mind” which I think was published around about 1977. Talk about an early adopter Dan!

“I have been doing this for decades and waiting for the time to come. The time has come.”

Dan Goleman:

Well yes [laughing], actually Davidson and I were meditators as college students and graduate students at Harvard and I spent 2 years in India studying different types of meditation including Mindfulness and came back to do research on it. But we were way ahead of the curve back then. No-one back then was interested, but by now though there are about 1,500 studies a year on it. So yes I have been doing this for decades and waiting for the time to come. The time has come.

Dr. Martyn Newman:

What do you think is is that Mindfulness delivers that has taken the rest of us laggards so long to discover?

Dan Goleman:

Well 2 things.

  1. Mindfulness is direct training of attention. Attention is an underused muscle in our society. But it is like a muscle. It operates the same way because of what is called neuroplasticity – the fact that the brain shapes itself repeatedly through repeated experiences in life. And we can be very methodical about it. Mindfulness is like going to a mental gym and the equivalent of doing a rep where you lift a weight to make a muscle grow is being mindful, seeing your mind wander and bringing it back.
  2. And that indeed seems to change the strength and circuitry for focus. And focus is the key to learning, to optimal performance, to leadership, to excellence in any domain.

“The leaders single most important job is to manage attention flow.”

Dr. Martyn Newman:

Yes, I seem to remember reading in your book ‘Focus’ that you said the leaders single most important job is to manage attention flow. What did you mean by that?

Dan Goleman:

Well, if a leader can manage his or her own attention and manage themselves, we find that self-awareness which is what managing attention does for you is the foundational skill for all the Emotional Intelligence leadership competencies. People who are strong in self-awareness turn out to have well-developed strengths across the board. That’s everything from the drive to achieve, conflict management, empathy and so on. And people who are low in self-awareness have very few such things. So there is this very intriguing relationship between sharpening your attention, your focus, your Mindfulness and leadership strengths.

Dr. Martyn Newman:

I find that really interesting. In our approach to working with Emotional Intelligence in organisations, we typically begin with Mindfulness because it seems to me that at the core of Emotional Intelligence is the ability to monitor your own feelings and emotions. From your point of view how do you see Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness being connected? How do they work together?

Dan Goleman:

Well, in my model of Emotional Intelligence there are 4 domains:

1) Self-Management  2)Social Awareness 3) Relationship Management 4) Self-Awareness

And embedded in each of these domains are competencies that build on those core fundamental abilities. And it turns out that the research I am doing with the Kornferry-Hay Group shows that people who have self-awareness (which is what Mindfulness builds) are able to cultivate other strengths. People who lack it cannot.

 

To find out more about the latest global findings on Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence
Hear Dan Goleman live at EQSummit.com.
London May 25th.
Tickets are selling fast.
Register here!