Employee Wellness

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Jay Shetty Talks Mindfulness, Mental Health and Performance at Goldman Sachs

Calm’s Chief Purpose Officer and host of award-winning podcast On Purpose shares insights and tips about mindfulness, mental health, and performance with Goldman Sachs employees.

Jay Shetty speaking at Goldman Sachs on performance

The Calm Team

4 min read

British racing driver Lewis Hamilton has won a joint-record seven Formula One World Drivers’ Championships. His contemporary Novak Djokovic, the oldest professional tennis player to be ranked number one in the world, has won a record 24 Grand Slam titles. 

What do Hamilton and Djokovic both practice? Mindfulness, according to Jay Shetty, Calm’s Chief Purpose Officer and host of the award-winning podcast On Purpose. “The tools of mindfulness and meditation are so much of the heart of making us better at what we do,” Shetty told an audience of Goldman Sachs employees. In fact, high performance and mental health “go completely hand-in-hand,” and are credited by the top 1% in every field as core to their success, he said. 

Shetty spoke on mindfulness, mental health, and performance at a recent “Goldman Sachs Talks” conversation at the company’s corporate offices in Manhattan. The conversation was hosted by Jacqueline Arthur, global head of Human Capital Management and Corporate Workplace Solutions at Goldman Sachs.

Shetty shared insights about the importance of mindfulness and the many ways to practice it. Following are three takeaways from the discussion.

3 key takeaways from the discussion

There’s no one way of practicing mindfulness

“The biggest myth to debunk is that there’s one way of meditating, one way of practicing mindfulness,” said Shetty. Too often, we expect to just sit there and turn off the mind, and if we can’t do that, we believe we’re not good at meditation or mindfulness, he explained.

Shetty believes some of this self-judgment comes from starting to see our bodies and minds like technology—with an on-off switch. When we can’t simply turn ourselves off upon command, we think something’s wrong with us, like a glitch in our phone. But “mindfulness is actually being patient… Mindfulness is the ability to adapt to your scenario, not the reason to force yourself to behave in a certain way,” he stressed.

He recommends not forcing yourself to practice mindfulness for 30 minutes every morning or evening, but instead taking simple steps throughout the day. “One of my favorite habits has been to make sure that every hour I get up from wherever I’m sitting and I walk, I move around, I go up to a window and I look outside.” 

We spend so much time looking at our screens, and the amount of information we’re consuming can be overwhelming, he said. “The ability to look out of a window and look as far into the distance as you possibly can, whether it’s at a bird, the top of a building in New York, a tree in the distance, the ability to allow your eyes to just stretch and have some space.” 

He also recommends staying hydrated. “I always tell people ‘Walking, window and water every hour, just that simple step can actually shift how you feel throughout the day. . .Giving yourself grace and giving yourself the space to say, ‘I’m going to find these mini moments of presence.’”

Build your team of personal advisors

An accomplished author, coach, podcast host, consultant, educator and philanthropist, how does Shetty himself prioritize everything and hold it all? Aside from discipline and sleeping well, Shetty credits his team. “It’s my team. It’s the people around me. I wouldn’t be able to do everything on that list without the people around me,” he told the audience.

“And one of my favorite tips or reflections that I’d like you all to do when you walk out of here is… to write down a list of all your personal needs of things that you enjoy, things that you’d like to do. And then I want you to think of that person in your life that brings that to your life and literally write a name next to each one of those qualities.” He also asked the audience to think about the people they show up for in that way.

It’s a mistake to depend on a single person, just as it’s a mistake to rely on everyone, Shetty cautioned. Instead “build up intentional, conscious, clear relationships” with people, knowing how they help you and how you help them. If you’re going through a particular challenge, you’ll know who to call. “I think we all need to create personal teams as much as we have professional teams,” he said.

Mental health is about thriving, not just sustaining

“We think the longer hours we clock, the more successful we are,” said Shetty. “It’s this belief that doing more results in more. And actually what ends up happening for most people is doing more results in less, because you can’t stay at that high performance point that you’ve reached again and again. You’re trying to sustain rather than beat and thrive.”

But managing your mental health is not about sustaining your current level of effectiveness, Shetty remarked. “It’s about being able to thrive and completely beat it.” High performers who manage their mental health make decisions better and faster, he noted, and have more clarity to stick with their decisions. They also notice how those decisions impact others. 

Focusing on “growth setting” rather than “goal setting” is one way high performers can get on the path to thriving, not just sustaining, he explained. We tend to set lofty goals for ourselves, like getting in shape or getting more sleep, but we don’t focus on the attributes or qualities needed to achieve those goals. If you want to get more sleep, you’ll need to develop the discipline of breaking habits and building new ones, for example. If you want to get a promotion, you might need to communicate better with the people you work with, he said.

“Have your goal, but ask yourself, ‘What’s the growth? What’s the quality? What’s the attribute? What’s the trait that I need to grow in order to reach that goal?’ Because that’s often the missing link in all of our goal setting,” Shetty said.  

You can hear more of “GS Talks with Jay Shetty” here

 For more information on supporting employee mental well-being and performance, connect with your Calm specialist today

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