Unless you've been dropped into the business world as a spy from another dimension, you've probably already heard of mindfulness. Put simply, it's a way to focus your thoughts and calm your nerves; Zen without the Buddhism, if you will.

Steve Jobs was the most famous practitioner of mindfulness, but his techniques (which I described in "how to" detail in a previous column) are widely practiced in the high tech world; many CEOs swear by it.

The high tech culture that popularized mindfulness are about to turn it from an optional stress-relieving technique for CEOs into a mandatory, absolutely-must-master skill for everybody who wants to keep their job.

According to the Washington Post, a team of Dartmouth researchers have figured out how to use the data from an Apple Watch, Fitbit or other wearable to determine whether you're a happy, positive, and therefore productive worker:

"The researchers say their mobile-sensing system, which consists of fitness bracelets, sensors and a custom app, can measure employee performance with about 80 percent accuracy. The system monitors physical and emotional signals that employees produce during the day and uses that data to create a performance profile over time that is designed to eliminate bias from evaluation [thus] providing someone with valuable insights about their productivity, stress levels during meetings or lifestyle habits that impact their ability to perform their job."

While that sounds all sunshine and roses, what the technology really means is that once it's in place you'll be judged, compensated and promoted based on your inner emotions rather than the actual work.

I wish I were joking, but I'm not.

Consider: most companies already include "attitude" as an element of employee evaluations; some companies even mandate that their employees smile. But such policies, while irritating, can be gamed. After all, you can always stick a smile on your face... even if you're seething on the inside.

But now wearing a mask of contentment won't work. To pass as the Stepford employee that many companies apparently want, you'll need to monitor and control your inmost thoughts and emotions, lest your inner anger and frustration end up in your annual review... or on your walking papers.

Companies already have the right--indeed are sometimes required by law--to extract and analyze your blood, and there are absolutely no laws or regulations prohibiting companies from reading your mind and emotions. Quite the contrary, it's easy to imagine some governments making such technology mandatory to preemptively identify workers who might "go postal."

So, unless you're a Little Mary Sunshine through and through, you'd best start learning mindfulness, since that's the only practical way you'll be able to survive in a world where Big Brother is literally inside your brain.

Published on: Jul 1, 2019
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