The Search Inside Yourself Program is a remarkably effective approach for facilitating growth and development in both organisations and their leadership teams, writes Craig Donaldson

Course review: Search Inside Yourself (SIY) program
Duration: Two days onsite + four-week follow-up
Cost: $995 – $1500

Most personal growth and self-development programs for executives usually vary in their effectiveness and ability to deliver real and lasting change. This comes down a variety of factors, from the course content, processes for facilitating change, course facilitators as well as executives’ willingness to change and the process for embedding this and reinforcing new behaviours on a longer-term basis.

A relatively new program to facilitating change is the Search Inside Yourself program, which was born at Google in 2007 when veteran Google engineer Chade-Meng Tan brought together leading experts in mindfulness, neuroscience and emotional intelligence to develop an in-house training for Google employees. This became Search Inside Yourself and quickly grew to be the most popular training program in the company.

In 2012, a separate not-for-profit, the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI) was established to meet demand for the program from outside organisations, and today, the Institute continues to work with Google, as well as other corporate, non-profit and government organisations around the world.

The Search Inside Yourself Program combines neuroscience, mindfulness and emotional intelligence to help people build the skills needed for sustained peak performance, strong collaboration and effective leadership. The core program is taught over two full days, with four weeks of follow-up delivered virtually. There are four core components of the Search Inside Yourself program:

  • Overview of the neuroscience of emotion, perception and behaviour change
  • Attention training to enable greater emotional intelligence, including self-awareness, self-mastery, motivation and connection with self and others
  • Practices for developing healthy mental habits that accelerate wellbeing, including effective listening, generosity, empathy, communication and social skills, and
  • Mindfulness and reflection practices that support happiness, overall wellbeing and exceptional leadership.

“Boosting creativity and improving innovation in organisations don’t just magically happen, and cannot be engineered through process, technology or the like”

The program is highly interactive, and is approximately one-third content and two-thirds experiential exercises, including one-on-one and group conversations, attention-training practices, listening exercises, and writing activities. This is not airy-fairy stuff either – the program is strongly grounded in a cutting-edge, science-based approach, and all of this combines to make the Search Inside Yourself program a remarkably effective tool for change.

The development that the program facilitates is not just about tinkering at the edges of participants; rather it can facilitate real, meaningful and profound change for the better. It teaches simple yet effective practices that lead to genuinely higher levels of creativity, innovation, focus, performance improvement and discretionary effort.

Boosting creativity and improving innovation in organisations don’t just magically happen, and cannot be engineered through process, technology or the like. This requires changes of state within humans, and the Search Inside Yourself program is phenomenally effective at helping participants facilitate these changes.

From an HR perspective, the program is also remarkably effective in helping leaders with personal growth and development, with a view to improving leadership styles and quality and resulting outcomes in organisations such as culture change.

According to emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman, the development of emotional intelligence relies on becoming more self-aware, which can be trained through mindfulness. Mindfulness leads to better judgment and emotional balance, especially in difficult situations, and the program teaches the neuroscience behind mindfulness and how to cultivate it as the foundational skill that enables emotional awareness, a calm and clear mind, and interpersonal effectiveness.

“From an HR perspective, the program is also remarkably effective in helping leaders with personal growth and development”

The program also teaches a self-awareness practice to enhance participants’ perception of emotions, habits, and behaviour patterns, as well as better self-regulation, so leaders can identify and work with emotional “triggers” and other difficult situations.

Another reason the program succeeds (and where others fail) is in the follow-up. Participants are encouraged to “buddy up” with a fellow participant at each program, and regularly check in with each other on how they are progressing with adopting new practices and developing new habits. This continues for four weeks after the completion of the initial two-day program, and culminates in a webcast with the program facilitators to further reinforce change and the positive outcomes of the program.

The program also strikes the right – and potentially delicate – balance between helping participants change, without being too confronting or uncomfortable so that individuals may shut down or opt out of the process. However, the program does push participants’ internal boundaries and change does require work, and one can feel the physical effort of the brain forging new neural pathways in the course of the Search Inside Yourself program.

Overall the program is very well thought-out, structured and delivered. For any executive or leadership team looking to make real progress and change (or for any HR professional looking to help others do this) the program can deliver in spades with commensurate levels of commitment.

For more information please visit www.searchinsideyourself.com.au. The Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute is also running a five-month leadership program called Engage, which is the advanced version of the Search Inside Yourself Program. Engage will be held in Sydney with two retreats (19-23 July, 2017 and 1-5 November, 2017) supported by a webinar series and collaboration through an online community. For more information visit www.siyengage.com.au. Image source: iStock