02/27/2014 11:57 am ET Updated Apr 29, 2014

Third Metric Meetings: Reinventing the Modern Meeting

At this year's Wisdom 2.0 conference, incredible speakers ranging from Arianna Huffington to Eckhart Tolle to Tony Hsieh to Alanis Morissette described new ways of connecting, of creating, and of fostering wisdom. If only those pesky meetings didn't get in the way...

This year's conference focused on "Wisdom in the Digital Age." The first day, we heard from leaders at Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn. They described the challenges their organizations are facing: information overload, priority proliferation, and meeting fatigue.

The reality they described feels like a sharp contrast to the high aspirations espoused during the rest of the conference. Eckhart Tolle encouraged us to live in the now. Arianna Huffington spoke passionately about the Third Metric -- imploring us to look at success beyond money and power and start redefining success to include well-being, wisdom, wonder, compassion, and giving. Dan Siegel and Alanis Morissette demonstrated a more conscious conversation where people actually connect and integrate rather than the usual "monologue-to-monologue."

So how do we unite these idealistic visions with the workplace reality so many of us are facing?

That was the question we explored in our breakout session on "Reinventing the Modern Meeting." We offered three shifts that would reshape the experience and outcomes of work life.

  • Make more conscious choices about how you spend your time. Taking a more mindful approach to your calendar and deciding which meetings are a good use of your time and which ones simply aren't. You can say "no" to a meeting!
  • Be conscious of your intention in every meeting. Why are you there? What do you want to make happen? If you don't know, your brain will skip out on it. There in body but not in mind doesn't count!
  • And finally, consciously manage your level of engagement in every meeting. How much of your energy, commitment, and focus are you giving? Multi-tasking has been proven to be neither effective nor efficient. By contrast, our full attention allows us to see patterns and connect dots. In essence, to integrate ideas and thereby produce collective wisdom.

Imagine this: You have fewer meetings because you've chosen wisely. To those meetings that you do attend, you bring a strong intention and full engagement. As a result, connected, conscious dialogue flourishes. Others feel seen, met, and heard. High-quality work gets done. You feel energized.

Let's call that a Third Metric meeting. And let's have more of them. By doing so, we can unite our aspiration with our day-to-day reality, making our work life -- even our meetings -- a platform and a practice for a more mindful, compassionate society.