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Mindful : June 2015
minology they’re not familia r with they shut down, or they think you’re on a different pla net. But those terms are universal, and I think everyone can get it.” During the fina ncial crisis of 2008, Ford faced the biggest challenge of his ca reer. Auto sales plum- meted, his competitors had to be bailed out by the government, a nd he worried he might be the Ford family member to preside over the destruction of the company. Every day he woke up during the crisis, he would spend time meditating, setting the intention that whatever would face him during the day, he would face it with compassion and loving kindness. As Ford went through layoffs, some of the employ- ees who had been let go would write him. But instead of berating him, the workers thanked him for giving them the opportunity to work at Ford. He broke into tears as he read these, but took some measure of solace that, no matter how bad the economy had become, Ford employees were still proud to work there. Ford hadn’t become a tobacco compa ny. Those letters spoke to what Ford said was a n innately pos- itive culture at the compa ny. Employees at all levels of the compa ny were active when opportunities to volunteer in the community ca me up, so Ford star ted the compa ny’s Volunteer Corps, which allows them to do community service on company time. “I wanted to institutionalize the spirit that was already there, of compassion,” he said. “If all you’re working for is stock options and paychecks, that ’s not enough” Setting up the Volunteer Corps was par t of Ford’s commitment to culture at the company, and in the communities where the company operates. He has made it a priority to bring clean water to towns near factories in the developing world, and to improve education in towns in the US. “ Wherever we can help, we should,” he said. “I’m a firm believer that we get back 10 times what we give. The goodwill we engender, not just with the people we help, but with our own employees—it’s a huge payoff. You could call it ethics. You could call it compassion. You could call it values. It all ends up in the same place pretty much as far as I’m concerned.” During the fina ncial crisis he would lay awake in bed, worrying he might become another casualty of the executive suite: “What it would be like to lose absolutely everything, including a la rge pa rt of my own identity?” What if the company folded, a nd he lost his job, a nd the family coffers were drained, a nd he was just a nother nobody? “But I realized that it really wasn’t my identity,” Ford said. “It was a lot of trappings. It’s stuff I care deeply about and people I ca re deeply about, but I realized through practice that the core of me would be just fine. And that the people I loved and cared about would still love a nd care about me. That sounds fairly trite, but I also know that had I not been practicing for a little bit of time, I would have understood that intel- lectually, but I know I wouldn’t have felt it right here,” he said, pointing to his heart. “I realized that losing everything really didn’t mean losing everything.” ● Most of us spend a great deal of time sitting behind our desks, or in conference rooms or colleagues’ offices, so having a short prac tice that helps you relax while at work can be beneficial. This “desk chair” meditation gives you a way to incorporate a short mindfulness practice into your day. 1 You may need to be creative to find a quiet place. Many people have said they’re best able to do this practice by first leaving their office and finding an empty conference room, or even leaving the building to sit in their car during par t of their lunch break. The desk chair par t need not be taken literally. This meditation can be done any where you are able to sit quietly and practice, even an airplane seat. 2 Begin by bringing your at tention to the sensations of your breath. When you’re ready, direct your at tention to the Meditate Right Where You Are soles of your feet, opening your mind to whatever sensations are there to be noticed. Perhaps you are noticing the pressure on the soles of your feet as the weight of your legs rests on them. Perhaps the soles of your feet feel warm or cool. Just notice. No need to judge or engage in discursive thinking. If your mind is pulled away or wanders, redirect your at tention, firmly and gently. 3 Move your at tention nex t to the tops of your feet, ankles, lower legs, knees, and so for th. Gradually scan through your body, noticing sensations, noticing discomfor t, and noticing areas of your body where you detect an absence of sensations. You simply don’t notice any sensations in your shoulders right now, for example. No need to search for sensations; just keep scanning through your body, taking your time and being open to what is here. From Finding the Space to Lead by Janice Mar turano Excerpted from Mindful Work by David Gelles. © 2015 by David Gelles. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Compa ny. All rights reser ved. June 2015 mindful 65 business