Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Meditation and Task Motivation

Mike Griffiths, over at ProjectManagement.com, provided a succinct summary of the findings from recent research claiming that mindfulness impairs task motivation.

Employees who practice mindfulness meditation are less motivated, having realized the futility of their jobs.

His conclusion – Beware those corporate mindfulness workshops unless your organization has a compelling purpose!

There are some serious issues with the research methodology used (meditation is not a one-and-done deal and the tasks they had them do in the lab were out of context, nevermind pointless), but I also don’t think the conclusion is entirely wrong.

What do you want people “motivated” to do for you? Why?

There IS a danger that your people will realize that their work for you is not helping either themselves OR a greater good.

There is a danger that they will see the task you are asking them to do to be as pointless as it actually is.

The highlights of the findings from ScienceDirect (direct quote):

  • State mindfulness impaired motivation to complete cognitive and performance tasks.
  • State mindfulness had no overall effect (good or bad) for performance on the same tasks.
  • Weakened future focus and arousal serially mediated demotivating effect.
  • Mindfulness enabled people to detach from stressors, which improved task focus.
  • Detachment and task focus help explain why mindfulness does not alter performance.

My personal conclusions on these findings:

  • Detaching from a future outcome is a good thing
  • Detaching from surroundings that will distract you is a good thing
  • Ability to focus on a task is a good thing
  • Questioning why you are doing the task in the first place is a good thing

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