November 26, 2014
Why Marc Benioff Thinks Every Leader Should Meditate

The day-to-day stresses of a CEO are immeasurable. Between travel and long hours at the office, a CEO’s life is fast-paced and quick moving, rarely allowing for moments of peace and quiet. Meetings are scheduled back to back, emergencies can arise without any warning, and the inbox is continuously overflowing with urgent emails.

Marc Benioff recently spoke at the Utah Tech Council Hall of Fame, focusing on how meditation is a necessary practice in his daily routines and how it touches all aspects of his life. A major take-away from his interview with Domo CEO Josh James, was that meditative practices could improve how business leaders do their jobs.

“One of the most important things that any of us can do when we’re getting ready to create something, and when we want to make the world better, is first and foremost to take a step back,” Benioff said. “The next step I try to advise entrepreneurs to do is to clear your mind, make room for some new ideas, and get back to a beginner’s mind.”

Meditation is a practice through which individuals train their minds to focus, quiet their thoughts and arrive at a state of inner peace. People often credit meditation for helping them relax, compose themselves and realign their actions and thoughts with what is most important in their lives.

Implementing the practice of mindful meditation can be a quick respite from the daily stresses of leading an organization and a much needed rejuvenation to help you perform your best. Even just a five-minute session of meditation with no interruptions and no distractions can dramatically improve your focus and motivation.

Marc Benioff isn’t alone in supporting routine mindful meditation, as multiple CEOs condone the practice.

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner schedules out blocks of time during his day for the sole purpose of thinking. “If you don’t take the time to think proactively you will increasingly find yourself reacting to your environment rather than influencing it,” Weiner said in a LinkedIn blogpost.

In meditating you still your mind and body so that you can search internally and decide which thoughts need your attention most.

Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna, meditates in the mornings to set his day on the right track.

“Everyday I get up at 5:30 to do my practice because I know I’m headed into a chaotic world where I’m going to hear a lot of good and bad things, and I’m going to be challenged about my own worth.” Bertolini said. “Unless I can bring myself to [a peaceful] environment in a steady and mindful way, and be present in the moment– every opportunity I can, I can’t help the people around me either.”

Studies have shown that meditation can be more effective in improving a person’s well being than taking a vacation. Assigning specific times throughout the day to concentrate and meditate has the ability to increase brain function and overall physical health and emotional satisfaction.

So try meditation yourself. Allot a specific amount of time everyday to thinking, meditating and breathing and see how it impacts your life.