Today’s “always on” work culture is taking a heavy toll on leaders, but McKinsey & Co.’s Manish Chopra believes he has a solution: meditation.
Leaders need to “observe more, react less,” Chopra says, noting that meditation helps to declutter and detoxify his mind so that he can focus and be a more effective leader.
In a personal reflection published by McKinsey in February, Chopra describes how meditation helps him deal with three common challenges faced by leaders: email addiction, coping with disappointment and becoming too insular.
Chopra recalls how he used to compulsively check his email as soon as he woke up. He experienced electronic overload, wrote knee-jerk replies and often found that an unpleasant email would impact his mood throughout the day. Now, Chopra uses the morning to meditate, exercise, prioritize his day and perform tasks that require complex thinking. He deals with emails after dinner, when his mind is less productive and he has time to craft a more deliberate and considered response.
Meditation has also helped Chopra learn to find the positive in negative situations instead of reacting instinctively with frustration or resentment. He says meditation provides a buffer that allows him to respond in a more neutral manner and not be consumed by negativity. He can now acknowledge when a rival does a better job and be happy when a potential client finds the right solution—even when it isn’t his.
Chopra also credits meditation with helping him learn to delegate and to better understand other people’s perspectives when making tough decisions.