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I recently led an emotional intelligence workshop in downtown San Francisco for a group of 15 CEOs of small- and mid-size companies. Looking around the room, I could see these were business people who wanted learn skills that would improve their businesses and impact  the bottom line.

After talking about the theory of emotional intelligence, I announced, “Let’s do some attention training.”

I explained that as CEO’s they could all appreciate the importance of the ability to stay focused as well as to expand their field of attention. And they could understand the importance of the quality of attention, their ability to be present, whether having one-to-one conversations or leading larger meetings.

We then spent about 10 minutes, simply and quietly bringing attention to the breath and body. I spoke about the possibility of training attention and congratulated them on being introduced to mindfulness meditation practice. This was followed by experimenting with practicing mindful listening, where each person listened to another for three minutes, without interrupting. Many people in the room expressed how important it is in business to be a good listener and they appreciated being introduced to mindfulness practice as well as mindful listening.

The April 3, 2012, online edition of The Wall Street Journal featured an article about teaching mindfulness in business schools.

A few lines from the article:

“Jeremy Hunter, who teaches at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University outside Los Angeles, believes mindfulness should be at the center of business schools’ teaching. That, he argues, is because it is about improving the quality of attention, and in the modern workplace, attention is the key to productivity.”

“To me, it’s fundamental to how work gets done these days,” he said. “Basically, that’s what work is, attention.”

Yes, the world of business is changing.

—Marc Lesser, co-founder of SIYLI