10 Leaders Who Meditate and Why You Should Follow Their Example
Here at Flow, we already know the many benefits of meditation. Regularly meditating can help to reduce anxiety, lessen stress, increase focus and overall help one to approach their daily life with more clarity and calm. But we’re not the only ones who know this — some of the world’s top leaders and business minds have known for years that meditation can often equal greater success.
Here are just a few of the world’s influential leaders who meditate and how you can follow their examples.
10 Influential Leaders Who Meditate (and Why)
1. Jeff Weiner
If anyone knows the corporate environment, it’s Jeff Weiner, prior CEO of LinkedIn. But did you know that Jeff Weiner is also a staunch supporter of meditation?
As Weiner tweeted in 2017, “One of the benefits of my getting older: Far greater appreciation for three things that are too often taken for granted: Health, love and time.” That health aspect is one that Weiner ties into his meditation practice. He says he meditates daily, to bring him more positivity and focus. He also says that meditation helps him to improve issues that may have gone previously unrecognized, thanks to meditation’s ability to create greater awareness.
2. Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs, as Inc. reports, was one of the earliest adopters of meditation in the corporate sphere. He used mindfulness meditation to increase clarity and enhance creativity, while also increasing discipline.
Jobs said, “If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things — that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before.”
3. Kobe Bryant
But the power of meditation isn’t just limited to leaders in the corporate or tech world. Some of the world’s most famous athletes of all time have also used meditation to enhance their performance.
One of these athletes was the late, great Kobe Bryant. Bryant told Good Morning America that he would often meditate for 15 minutes at a time each morning and this meditation gave him clarity when he decided to retire.
4. Oprah Winfrey
In the entertainment sphere, Oprah Winfrey has been a big supporter of meditation. In fact, she says that meditation changed her life and helped her to learn how to be present on a greater scale, in every moment of the day.
She says, “Although I'm a big proponent of formal meditation — for the discipline, joy and calm it brings — I'm moving into an even greater phase of being fully present all the time. It's a heightened state of being that lets whatever you're doing be your best life, from moment to astonishing moment. The outside world is constantly trying to convince you you're not enough. But you don't have to take the bait. Meditation helps you resist.”
5. Emma Chamberlain
One of the currently biggest internet personalities, perhaps most well-known among the gen-z crowds, Emma Chamberlain also meditates.
Emma Chamberlain has shared her morning routine on her YouTube channel as well as on her podcast, saying meditation is something she really recommends. Emma says “meditating for 10 minutes a day has made the biggest difference in my life, ever” (Ep: “good habits” at 19:52).
Emma admits she’s gone through phases when she’s meditated, but found it difficult making it stick; “It takes mental strength and it’s hard to get yourself to want to do it”. She describes how meditating in the morning makes her feel relaxed for the rest of the day, and that it also makes her think more clearly and makes her brain feel less cluttered. Emma tells her audience that meditation is definitely worth the effort.
6. Bill Gates
Like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates is known as one of the smartest, most-groundbreaking minds in not just tech, but business in general. Bill Gates says that he wasn’t always interested in meditation, finding it to be more of a “woo-woo thing tied somehow to reincarnation,” but, as of 2018, he has a better understanding and now meditates two or three times per week, for about 10 minutes each time.
“I now see that meditation is simply exercise for the mind, similar to the way we exercise our muscles when we play sports. For me, it has nothing to do with faith or mysticism. It’s about taking a few minutes out of my day, learning how to pay attention to the thoughts in my head, and gaining a little bit of distance from them,” he says.
7. Padmasree Warrior
Former CTO of Cisco, Padmasree Warrior is one of the most influential women in tech, and has been called one of the most powerful women in the world. And one fun fact? She logs off her tech frequently to meditate. As CNN reported, “Just because you’re leading one of the biggest computer equipment companies on the planet, doesn’t mean you have to be constantly plugged-in. At the end of each day, mother-of-one Warrior apparently turns off all her electronics and finds 20 minutes to meditate.”
8. Katy Perry
Pop stars aren’t immune to the power of meditation either. Katy Perry is a strong supporter of transcendental meditation, which she uses for rest and relaxation. She, much like Oprah, says that meditation has changed her life.
“I start the day with transcendental meditation. It puts me in the best mood. I wake up and just prop myself up in bed for 20 minutes. It’s the only time my mind gets absolute rest,” she said. “It’s changed my life, it’s changed how I think about things. I meditate before I write a song, before I perform. I feel my brain open up and I feel my most sharp.”
9. Arianna Huffington
Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington starts every day with a meditation session. She told High Existence, “A big part of my morning ritual is about what I don’t do: when I wake up, I don’t start the day by looking at my smartphone. Instead, once I’m awake, I take a minute to breathe deeply, be grateful and set my intention for the day. Then I do 20 to 30 minutes of meditation and 30 minutes on my stationary bike, on days when I’m home. I also practice yoga most mornings.”
She even says that she wished she’d learned earlier just how powerful it can be to meditate for even just five minutes each day.
10. Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney has long been a frequent meditator. He says, “In moments of madness, meditation has helped me find moments of serenity — and I would like to think that it would help provide young people a quiet haven in a not-so-quiet world.”
McCartney started meditating in the 60s and still does so today. “I think it’s always very good to get a sort of still moment in your day. Whenever I have a chance in a busy schedule, I’ll do it, if I’m not rushing out the door with some crazy stuff to do. But yeah, I always like to take a moment and just meditate. Transcendental meditation is a good thing.”
Promoting Meditation as a Leader
You might not be a billionaire tech leader or a high-profile celebrity like some of the daily meditators mentioned above, but if you’re in any sort of leadership role, you can help your teams discover the power of meditation along with you. Follow the examples of Fortune 500 organisations that have incorporated mindfulness meditation into their corporate cultures, with great success. PwC, Nike, McKinsey & Co., Apple, Google — they all promote on-the-job meditation.
Why? One reason is just good math. According to author David Gelles at Mindful Work, one highly-stressed employee can cost their company an extra $2,000 per year in healthcare, compared to their less-stressed colleagues. As an example, when Aetna began implementing a mindfulness program, the organisation’s healthcare costs fell by 7% and the organisation saw productivity gains estimated at $3,000 per employee.