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What the Business World Can Learn From Religion

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The business world simply isn't carving out enough time for rituals, asserts Peter Bregman, the CEO of a management consulting firm in Harvard Business Review. Religion, he says, has long recognized the power of ritual to focus our attention on a particular moment or action, thereby endowing it with meaning and enabling us to savor it.

What might ritual--divorced of its religious associations--look like in the business world? Bregman elaborates:


Sit at your desk in the morning, pause before booting up your computer, and mark the moment. Do this by taking a deep breath. Or by arranging your pens. Whatever it is, do it with the intention of creating respect for what you're about to begin. Do the same before you make a phone call. Or receive one. Or before you meet with a colleague or customer.


[What] if every time we worked on a spreadsheet someone else created for us, we paused to acknowledge the complexity of the work she did and the attention to detail she brought to it? If at the beginning of the day we paused to honor the work we are about to do and the people with whom we are about to do it?


Imagine if we started each meeting with a recognition of the power of bringing a group of people together to collaborate and an intention to dedicate ourselves, without distraction, to achieving the goals of the meeting. Perhaps even an acknowledgement that each person's views, goals, and priorities are important and need to be heard.


What if every performance review began with a short thought about the importance of clear and open communication?


Focus will help us accomplish our tasks more carefully, more proficiently, and more productively, with fewer distracting under-the-table BlackBerry texts. And all the research shows that that kind of singular focus will make us far more efficient.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.