How Mindfulness Helps Entrepreneurs (Hint: It’s All About Empathy)
By BETH HARPAZ
A new study examines the impact of mindfulness activities on college students studying entrepreneurship.
In presenting his findings, Professor Roderick Shane Snipes (Borough of Manhattan Community College) explains how mindfulness helps entrepreneurs by improving their ability to be empathetic. Snipes’ work appears in the Journal of Entrepreneurship Education.
Snipes is a mindfulness practitioner and trainer as well as a business facilitator and entrepreneurship educator. His study sought to determine “whether and how mindfulness improves the empathy of classroom participants” who took part in “ultra-brief” mindfulness activities facilitated by Snipes. He also encouraged students to work on mindfulness outside of class.
Snipes assessed data from 72 students (including a control group) before and after the mindfulness interventions to measure various manifestions of empathy.
Snipes found “significant high empathy outcomes in the mindfulness treatment group” compared to the group that did not receive the interventions.
Empathy relates to entrepreneurship in many ways. “Since entrepreneurship is about building new businesses for a specific community,” Snipes writes, “having a keen understanding and appreciation of the needs and desires of community members is an important skill.”
Entrepreneurs with high empathetic scores tend to be better at leadership, teamwork, negotiation, customer relations, and innovation, and they are also emotionally resilient in the face of difficulties.
Mindfulness involves being sensitive to one’s environment and considering alternative perspectives, rather than operating by rote or habit, or being inattentive or anxious.
Snipes said his findings suggest that “entrepreneurship educators can help students to develop some of the most important skills in entrepreneurship by introducing mindfulness in the classroom.”