Guided Meditation for Businessmen

By Nate Odenkirk | STAFF WRITER

I want you to close your eyes.

Silence your pager, unclip your Bluetooth headset, and turn your phone’s ringer to “emergency only.” This is your time. Keep your monitor on, though. Just in case the Q1 report comes in.

As you sit in your cubicle, I want you to feel your back mold to the contours of your TheraMax Ergonomic Swivel Edition Chair, ™ how it gently creaks as you recline up to 15 degrees in any direction you choose. Recline.  Let that creak excite your inner ear.

Think about your inbox. See every unread email melting away into the abyss as a clipart screensaver of a waterfall fades onto the screen. As you look closer, you can see yourself at the top of the waterfall, shaking hands with another colleague. You’re smiling. You just closed a five-figure sale, and he compliments you on the firmness of your handshake. The contract magically appears, and you sign it with an effortless flick of the pen. The waterfall rushes, the contract wraps itself around you, it’s soft, a warm blanket, it hugs you, it’s a very good deal.

Now picture the break room. Yes, the break room near the mail room, that one. Imagine walking into it, but it’s completely deserted. The good table—the one that doesn’t wobble—has your business card on it, as if someone reserved it for you. You glance over by the water cooler to see that someone got some weird cookies from the Russian bakery down the street for Chris’ birthday. This time, there’s enough for everyone.  The cookies smell like pistachio, even though you can’t see any pistachios in them.  Inhale the pistachio. You pass on them but sign the office card—great stuff, Chris! Cheers to you! you scribble.

Suddenly, a new email comes in. It’s the Q1 numbers. They’re—they’re not bad, but growth was still two points below expectations. Picture yourself picturing the upcoming meeting, your boss demanding to know the reason for the underperformance, gently demanding. Your mind gently races to think of a possible explanation, and then it hits you: a natural market correction, an organic fluctuation in the market.  Picture the fluctuating of the market.  Gently tell your boss about the fluctuations.

Picture the fluctuating of the market.  Gently tell your boss about the fluctuations.

You open your eyes. The phone rings—it’s your boss. He gently wants to know why you haven’t been picking up your phone these last three minutes. He tells you that a conference call with the higher-ups has been set for forty-five minutes to discuss the Q1 numbers. “I look forward to it,” you say with a coy inner-smile. “Okay,” you say, then, “Wear comfortable shoes…”  Your joke, a reference to the fluctuating market, lands with a gentle thud. “What?” says the boss. “Uh, never mind, I’ll see you at the meeting.” You hang up quickly.

Open your eyes and realize that humor was never your strong suit. ♦