When Buddhist career coach Marc Lesser's book "Less" came out in 2009, it didn't seem to get the attention it deserved. Lesser's thesis is that by slowing down we will get more done with more quality. That was too counterintuitive for many of us strivers to embrace.
That was then. Now that it's become commonplace to work ourselves almost to death without any guaranteed outcome, we are beginning to pay attention to alternate ways of navigating our professional lives. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL features public relations executive Alison Brod whose Hamptons house serves that purpose.
Others have researched the calming effects of petting an animal companion and brought a cat rescued from the shelter into their lives. Some have given up on the rat race, opening businesses which give them more control over their work. Of course, there is also the usual march to doctors' offices to have prescriptions filled out for medications ranging from sedatives to sleeping pills. Even seeming well-put-together media personality Tom Brokow revealed that he sometimes takes an Ambien.
Another path has been Eastern philosophy. Its focus is slowing down the mind so that it can truly focus on the what is at the moment. Professionals as well as college students are finding the locations of meditation centers and learning how to concentrate on breathing, not the presentation they have to give the next day or the paper to be written on how women are portrayed in Shakespeare's comedies.
I am part of this slouching toward slowness. A few months ago I went on a search for serenity. I hadn't found it in 12-step programs or weekend trips to the ocean in Rhode Island. Through word of mouth I found out about the Shambhala Meditation Center, New Haven, Connecticut. That began with a 20-minute complimentary introduction to meditation. On Sundays, Mondays, and Wednesday there are free meditation sessions as well as lectures. On Thursday there is a free recovery meeting. On Tuesdays for five weeks, starting this week, there is a course with tuition at $80 for non-members for how to be content in daily life no matter what's happening.
The shock is that retrofitting the mind is what's panning out for me. I have slowed down. Simultaneously my earning power took that great leap forward. As in pre-recession times, on Wednesday I grossed $1000. Yesterday, I picked up another $200, on an emergency which I completed without rushing. The client emailed back, "Super job."
I have a hunch that eventually employers will ask job applicants, "What is your strategy to seek serenity?" Without it, consistent production of quality work seems unlikely.