Or, as expressed more elaborately on the company website, applying “proven mindfulness and meditation tools in the corporate setting to reduce stress, energise teams, unlock insight, tap into creativity and optimise decision making”.
Peter knows executive stress. For thirteen years and seven months, through the nineties and the first decade of the new century he was CEO of the Internet Industry Association of Australia (IIA).
IIA, now part of the Communications Alliance, was in its heyday the national industry body for internet commerce, content and connectivity and a key player in often intense public policy debates and manouevres over the commercial, legal and political implications of the information revolution.
These were “uncharted waters” and “highly political”.
With academic qualifications in science, the law and education, Peter was well equipped intellectually and in experience to take on the challenge of this new field. And he clearly enjoyed the challenge.
“We really felt like we were the vanguard of a new way – a new way of being, a new way of communicating.
“A lot of our role was educational – developing innovative, well-reasoned positions on social policies and the economic implications.”
Nothing is Wasted: Tackling the Spam Menace
In 1998, IIA developed a code of practice, designed to help deal with spam.
Peter applied a process which he had used successfully in the field of environmental pollution. There the aim had been to generate attention and action by showing the economic cost of not dealing with environmental pollution. With the internet industry there was (and is) an economic cost of spam. A campaign was launched with the aim of shifting the cost burden of spam from the consumer and from internet service providers to the spammers.
This experience taught Peter that “You can actually foster an appropriate way of thinking that gives you more predictable access to the lessons of the past. It gives you inspiration to innovate that would otherwise be quite random.”
Peter had learned to meditate in 1977 and then, after successfully encouraging his businessman father to meditate, he “glimpsed the applicability of these ancient techniques to modern corporate life”.
He attributes his capacity, over all those years as CEO of IIA, to sustain high levels of performance, in that turbulent environment, to his ability “to regularly enter a state of what we call stillness…”.
A couple of years on from IIA, the “tipping point” that moved him towards his current activity with SerenityWorks was in the form of developments in neuroscience with direct relevance to challenges faced by executives today, including:
- the ability to process a volume of information quickly
- maintaining focus and attention
- emotional control
- seeing things in perspective
- managing fear
“This whole meditation revolution (which is how it actually feels) feels surprisingly like the internet felt in 1997. It feels like we’re on the cusp of another huge wave now. And this time the revolution is around human consciousness and human performance, at the neurological level, but of course it’s supported by techniques that are thousands of years old.”
“The key to leadership these days is really having the courage to experiment, the courage to innovate.”
Eight Weeks to a Better Brain (Harvard Gazette – cites work of Sara Lazar)
Mindfulness can literally change your brain (Harvard Business Review)