It's the most highly rated training program at Google.

It has the longest waiting list to get in.

But it isn't about a topic you might expect that would help employees get ahead at a company like that.

It isn't, in other words, about coding, algorithms, or cloud computing.

It's about mindfulness, and how we can set aside mental baggage in order to approach a new situation with a present and focused mind.

The training program at Google with the longest waiting list is called "Search Inside Yourself," and it works in three steps, like this.

1. Attention training.

Start at the beginning, that is, with a calm mind that is both focused and clear.

2. Expanding self-knowledge.

We need to understand our triggers. That is, we need to be aware, objectively, of the circumstances that threaten to send us off-track. Identifying those triggers, rather than simply reacting to them, opens a window of time when we can employ mental and emotional strategies to effectively and positively navigate the situations. This involves deepening self-knowledge to the point of self-mastery.

3. Cultivating skills.

Specifically, mental skills such as empathy and compassion, which lead to better social skills, which make us better team players and better employees who are capable of managing stress and boosting creativity.

So how long does all of this take to learn?

There are two answers to that.

There's the long answer, which is 50 hours. That's the duration of the full course at Google.

There's also the short answer, which is six seconds. That's about how long it takes to take one mindful breath that resets body and mind. A slow and deep breath stimulates the vagus nerve, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces stress, lowers heart rate and blood pressure, and calms you down.

Try it. Start to cultivate the ability to calm your body and mind on demand.

Top athletes do it. (Just ask Novak Djokovic.) Employees and leaders at Google do it too. Same with their peers at companies from Goldman Sachs and Medtronic, who have also introduced meditation and mindfulness practices to employees.

Bottom line?

It's about staying calm while under fire, such as when you're making difficult decisions, feeling entrepreneurial pressure, or needing creative solutions to challenging situations.

Published on: Aug 30, 2017