By John Curle
I scanned the room cautiously—making a good impression on the first day of a new job is always a challenge and we had a full day of training ahead of us.
“Well, at least I’m not alone in this orientation process,” I thought as I looked around at the 20 or so new colleagues who had recently been hired, as well. “I guess it makes sense that we’d all get together for these kinds of mundane presentations,” I reasoned.
I assumed that, as with every other job I’d ever held, the first several meetings would be HR fluff and policy and procedure review. Cue Cory Custer, who strolled into the room and got the meeting started with a brief introduction of how we were about to have a unique onboarding experience.
As director of compassion, he refused to allow the day to be filled with corporate lectures and uninteresting diatribes about the values the company had printed on nice glossy stock. Rather, he indicated, we were going to get started with a moment of mindfulness: “Everyone close your eyes and breathe, and commit to being present today. We’re going to be discussing MESI and how it can help us all live a richer life.”
“What the hell is messy?! We’re closing our eyes? This is definitely weird, but I can give it a shot.”
I found myself surrounded by people willing to step outside of their comfort zones in the interest of self-improvement.
MESI, as it turns out, is short for Mindfulness-based Emotional and Social Intelligence. It’s a program developed by Cory to focus on making us better people, not better employees. It uses mindfulness exercises and meditation to draw our attention to the fact that compassion can be a catalyst for success, both personally and professionally.
We proceeded to meditate for a few admittedly very long minutes, then watched a few clips about the relevance of empathy and compassion. “Ok, let’s see what everyone’s thinking, there are bound to be some eye rolls here.”
My cynical glance around the room was met by an engaged and enthusiastic group of people who were willing to step outside of their comfort zones in the interest of self-improvement.
“Huh. Isn’t that the kind of person you’d rather be?” I asked myself, shortly thereafter realizing that this simple awareness of my skepticism was probably Cory’s goal for us all along. After several similar meditations and mindfulness drills, my apprehension had melted away and I committed to diving in without judgment.
As we approached the end of the day, I wasn’t awash with information about policy as I initially expected. Rather, I was actively reflecting on the way I treat myself and others—and committing to myself to do better.
I feel supported to offer different perspectives without fear of being judged for having a foolish idea.
Because of this first day of training, I know that I work somewhere that earnestly cares about my wellbeing. I feel supported to offer different perspectives without fear of being judged for having a foolish idea. I feel confident that my colleagues are all working on their emotional intelligence, as well, and will be supportive when I have a knowledge gap in my new role. I feel comfortable making mistakes and owning up to it because my team is there to support me, not drag me down.
Brighton Jones is not your typical workplace—the energy is contagious and it is a breath of fresh air to work somewhere that values how you get things done as much as why. I would never have guessed that I’d buy in to a program like MESI, but it’s been a very pleasant surprise to find something I never knew I was looking for.
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