Nina Godiwalla on How Meditation Helps High Performers Achieve

In Chapter 20 of 22 in her 2011 Capture Your Flag interview, author Nina Godiwalla answers "How Do You Reconcile Meditation and the Inherent Slowing Down It Encompasses When You Are Dealing With High Performing Individuals That Thrive on Intensity?"  Working with high performing individuals, often Type A personalities, Godiwalla teaches students mind-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques to help them be less fearful and more hopeful and positive.  Even for the most high performing individuals, she finds this helps them to unlock restrained potential and achieve more.  Godiwalla is the author of "Suits: A Woman on Wall Street".  She is also a public speaker on workplace diversity and founder and CEO of Mindworks, where she teaches mind-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques to help organizations improve employee wellbeing.  Godiwalla holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, an MA in Creative Writing from Dartmouth University and her BBA from the University of Texas at Austin. 


Erik Michielsen:  How do you reconcile meditation and the inherent slowing down that encompasses when you’re dealing with high-performing individuals that thrive on intensity?

Nina Godiwalla:  So I think one of the things I found -- so in the environment where you say high, there is that mindset of you know either you’re a high performer or you’re someone as if meditation might slow you down but the reality is, is with these high performers, it’s fascinating and research has actually has actually shown this and I’ve been in this environments, the MBA you know the MBA environment, the Wall Street environment, so much of it is run off of fear. 

The culture is run off of fear; it’s like they're so terrified of failing and I put myself in that category too especially when I’m in that environment I mean anything that goes wrong, it’s this environment of perfection and you have to do things right and perfect and you really look down on people that don’t do things necessarily well and I’ve been in those environments and, you know, what is a fantastic example is, you know, somebody that I was just recently talking to, she was rejected from Stanford she had this like complete sense of failure and got into several other MBA programs, fantastic, you know, top programs and she was just like “I don’t get rejected from schools,” and it was just that sense and so she was so focused on this failure, you know in her mindset and it’s that kind of attitude that’s ludicrous I mean so people look at that and they’re like “Oh, please I can’t feel sorry for you.”  But that’s how they operate like in general it’s – they, you know, 10 wonderful things happen to you and that one little thing and you’re so focused on that failure. 

So, my attitude towards that is you will – you can still be above average and these are, you know, type A people so they will do well and they will perform well but they will never be exceptional with that kind of mindset.  They will be – they will stand above other people but they’re not going to blow away the world because the reality is, is they’re still operating under that extreme fear and when things get really difficult and really challenging and something takes out their confidence, they will fall.  So you need people that have a mindset of that they actually can accomplish huge things and if every – if the motivation is all around fear and fear of failure, you’re not going to get very far and I talk about that because they have done so much research on the top MBA programs and they find that, you know, one of the 10 things that bring down some of the best people is their fear of failure.