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Dr. Martyn Newman PhD: The Strength of Equanimity

Apr 16, 2018

Martyn Newman is a widely respected voice on emotional intelligence and leadership. Here is some of his presentation from day two of the 2018 Pendulum Summit. Hear more from Martyn on Pendulum Talks.

The problem in business and education is that we separate feeling from knowing. We teach about verbal intelligence, maths and performance IQ, but not about recognising the inner-life of experiences or managing surging emotions.

We’ve created environments of complete disengagement. We’ve created cultures of passive-aggressivity within our organisations, places where people resist change and making a contribution.

I’ve spent the last 20 years delving into the back-end of my profession to combat this error. I want to help people understand the importance of feelings and how they contribute to the cultivation of knowledge and problem-solving.

Inside of each intelligent creature, what Buddhists call ‘sentient beings’, is a remarkable capacity for curiosity. A marked desire to solve problems purely for the intrinsic satisfaction of solving them, absent of any need for external reinforcement or reward. This realisation has profoundly changed how we understand motivation in the workplace, that it’s not purely sticks and carrots.

Mindfulness is a technology which reminds us to bring ourselves back to the present moment and focus our attention on it in its entirety, to be able to compartmentalise with such potency that we can move to a new meeting free from any residue of the previous meeting, thus ensuring that we are absolutely fresh and available. To possess the ability to be manage your attention.

Another element of mindfulness has to do with cultivating emotional balance. This occurs when we step back from our immediate experience and stop judging other people, transitioning from thinking to awareness. Our decision-making attains a certain clarity that succeeds in emitting a degree of authority.

As a young psychology student, I was in a session with my supervisor. We were working through a difficult and complex clinical case together, when out of the blue the door burst open and in came the department head. He began to scream abuse at the supervisor, unleashing a tirade that seemed to last for a lifetime. I went beetroot red and didn’t know where to look. The head completed the tirade warning my supervisor that one more transgression would cost him his job. Horrified, I gathered my papers and prepared to leave before my supervisor addressed me.

“Well, Mart, he’s got problems, hasn’t he? Now, where were we?”

I found it to be a profound moment. I was what the Buddhists label ‘equanimity’ in action, the ability to conceive that such vehement aggression was his s***, not yours. Mindfulness is the path to this ability. It’s not about stress reduction, how it’s being sold in the corporate world. It’s a gateway to self-discovery, a profoundly personal transformative technique.

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