How Meditation Helped These Leaders Achieve Extraordinary Success
How could meditation impact your leadership?
“Meditation more than anything in my life was the biggest ingredient of whatever success I’ve had,” shared Ray Dalio, Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Bridgewater Associates. “It comes from that centeredness and the sense of rising above things.”
There’s a compelling pattern developing amongst business leaders who achieve extraordinary success: they practice meditation. From Steve Jobs to Russell Simmons, these influential leaders have used meditation to increase innovation, harness their energy, and channel their drive into the things that matter most. In fact, their visibility helped in part to inspire my own practice. The various viewpoints of highly successful leaders who meditate allowed for me to feel more comfortable that meditation is a life tool that would benefit not just me, but those around me — in small and big ways.
When these leaders committed to a regular meditation practice, they found their work and their lives greatly improved and they gained a competitive edge in their business, leading them to new heights of success. Likewise, my practice has contributed to my own business successes. I never imagined that I would be able to humbly share that Forbes Magazine ranked my company as one of the Top 25 Small Giants: Best Small Companies in America 2017. Many factors played into this honor but for me, I know my meditation practice helped me to be a better leader.
There’s a story behind each leader’s journey to mindfulness — and a lesson for leaders looking to develop their own practice. With a focus on four extraordinary entrepreneurs, here’s how meditation impacted their lives and their tips for business leaders like us.
Author, Entrepreneur, and Public Speaker
“Start small, rig the game so you can win it, and get in five sessions before you get too ambitious with length. You have to win those early sessions so you establish it as a habit.”
In his best-selling book Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers, Tim Ferriss interviews more than 200 executives, leaders, and world-class performers. He found that more than 80 percent practiced some form of mindfulness or meditation. Among some of the most successful people in the world, Ferriss uncovered the Most Consistent Pattern Of All, connecting world-class athletes with billionaire investors: meditation.
Tim Ferriss admits that he was afraid he’d lose his edge when he started meditating. He even worried that meditation would make him “less aggressive or driven.” Instead, Ferriss found that the opposite was true, “Meditation simply helps you channel drive toward the few things that matter, rather than every moving target and imaginary opponent that pops up.”
Chairman and Co-Founder of Apple, Inc.
“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things — that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present.”
The late tech icon Steve Jobs changed the world of business in countless ways. Those close to him know that his achievements were made possible in part by the way Jobs trained his mind through meditation practice. It all started with a trip to India in 1974 to study the contemplative practices, like Hinduism and Buddhism. Upon returning to the United States, Jobs strengthened his discipline by meditating daily, attending retreats, and befriending thought leaders in the field.
Jobs was transparent about how he used mindfulness and meditation techniques to unleash creativity, gain clarity, and reduce stress during his time at Apple. Meditation gave him the ability to cut through the chaos of his environment and aggressively realize his vision. Many believe Jobs’ zen philosophies are even visible in the design of Apple products. Jobs cultivated his awareness to better understand the needs of his customers, follow his intuition, and create one of the most impactful products in modern history.
Co-Founder and CEO of Twitter, Founder and CEO of Square
“I look to build a lot of consistent routine. Same thing every day. [It] allows a steady state that enables me to be more effective when I do have to react to something out of hand.”
Jack Dorsey is a busy man: he is co-founder and CEO of Twitter and the founder and CEO of Square. Being a full-time CEO for two companies means Dorsey is managing twice the stress and responsibilities of leadership. When asked during a Product Hunt Q&A how he copes, Dorsey shared the morning routine that stabilizes him: “Up at 5am, meditate for 30 minutes, do a 7-minute workout three times, make coffee, and check in [with work].”
Dorsey sticks to this routine every single day, and it helps him find balance amidst 18-hour workdays split between his two companies. He also credits his meditation and exercise practice for boosting his creativity and allowing him to think more cohesively. His advice for business leaders who are building their own practice is simple: “Start now. Start here. Start small. Keep it simple.”
Chairman and CEO of Rush Communications, Co-founder of Def Jam Recordings
“I can promise you that no tool has made me a smarter, more focused and clearer thinking entrepreneur than meditation. When you sit quietly and let your mind settle, all the innovative, inventive and inspired ideas that have been hiding out in the depths of your mind are going to begin to bubble to the surface.”
After decades as a hip-hop music mogul, Russell Simmons is now devoting his time to making meditation more accessible to more people. When Simmons started meditating 15 years ago, he discovered an entirely different lifestyle. He went from doing drugs to veganism, and he now meditates twice a day and practices yoga. He also wrote a book, Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple, as part of his effort to introduce more people to meditation.
“Meditation is the greatest tool that I know of to help you both harness and maximize your entrepreneurial spirit,” implores Simmons. His advice for how to get started reminds leaders that there’s no “right” way to meditate.
“Put your alarm on, don’t move, and commit,” Simmons says. “The mind will go crazy without the movement, but the mind has no choice but to settle…everyone should re-boot their brain every day.”