As he was preparing to give a talk to Harvard undergraduates about how to do their best work, Dr. Kevin Majeres had an epiphany. He already had years of experience as a psychiatrist and faculty member at Harvard Medical School helping clients overcome their issues with anxiety, and he realized that his approach could also help people with their work.
“I could see that all the work I had done to help people master their anxiety, that same approach would help them optimize their approach to work,” said Majeres. “I was already teaching people how to let challenges bring out their best, but I was doing it in the context of anxiety disorders. But this all applies directly to work, because work is simply the arena in which we are normally engaging challenges.”
It was this realization that inspired Dr. Majeres to found OptimalWork, a program with the mission to help people work at their best. Drawing on Dr. Majeres’s research, the OptimalWork approach uses the latest research in neuroscience and behavioral psychology to help clients bring their highest ideals to their work.
“There are 3 steps to helping people overcome anxiety,” Majeres said. “First, you have to master your attitude, a process we call reframing. Then, you have to master your attention, and that’s called mindfulness, and finally, you have to master your actions, or lean into whatever it is that is challenging. OptimalWork brings these principles to the workplace, recognizing that these steps can also help us work at our best.”
But for Majeres and his team, the goal isn’t just optimizing work, but helping people grow in virtue. The habits and dispositions that their clients develop as they live in accordance with their highest ideals overlap in many ways with the human excellences theorized by Aristotle. “Aristotle famously asks whether one has to know all the theory behind virtue ethics in order to be a good person. His answer is no,” said Majeres. “Aristotle thought that when you are acting on the basis of what is noble and beautiful, pursuing your highest ideals, then that in itself can help you develop the virtues. It can be difficult to know when you have the virtues, but we can all know when we are acting on our highest ideals.”
Moving forward, Dr. Majeres is dreaming big, hoping to reach a million people by the end of this next year. OptimalWork’s dedicated podcast “The Golden Hour”, already at half a million listens, is well on its way. Majeres also hopes to make progress on further personalizing the OptimalWork program, targeting the areas that are most challenging for different people. “The more personalized the program, the quicker that people will see that growth in their productivity,” said Dr. Majeres. “But not only will they make strides in terms of productivity, but they will also spend more time each day living out their highest ideals, and we think that is a worthy mission.”
To learn more about OptimalWork or to start to incorporate their insights into your daily routine, check out their podcast, “The Golden Hour”, and their website at optimalwork.com.