What leaders can learn from yoga teachers. And why we all should be more like a yogi

I am sitting in a not so comfy chair at the airport in San Francisco and waiting for my flight, which is delayed. I am always an early bird when it comes to flights. That means I have been sitting here for quite a while. Do you know that nasty feeling when you sit on your couch in front of the TV for too long, and your body feels so stiff? A long stretch is the best you can do at that moment. That is exactly what I am doing right now, and it makes me feel much better. While giving myself a hug, I have to think about my last yoga lesson, and at the same time, the parallel to leadership comes to my mind. Usually, when you are a yoga newbie, your body isn’t that flexible at the beginning. You feel like a robot when you look around during your yoga class, and everybody else is doing crazy sh… with their body parts. You give your best and try to stretch your body as much as you can. And while you think you have already reached your limit, your yoga instructor inspects you from head to toe. You think, “Oh No! Please ignore me,” but (s)he is already next to you and has this facial expression, which says, „I know, YOU CAN DO MOOOORE!“. In the next moment, (s)he pushes you. You think your tendons will snap – but nothing happens. It’s just a bit uncomfortable – that’s all. You got challenged to step out of your comfort zone.

Thanks to this little push, you can see that your body is able to do more than you think. It is only your mind that tricks you and sets the limit. It is only your mind that tricks you and sets the limit. Click To Tweet And while you get challenged, you start to grow and to get better. And maybe one day you can do the splits. One of my yoga teachers said everyone’s body is different. A yoga pose might feel very easy for you, and for me, it might be a pretty difficult or vice versa. We have to understand our personal limits to be able to grow our own way and to develop ourselves.

Leadership yoga

In my option business leaders can learn a lot from yoga instructors. Team leaders should be growth enablers and invest time in individual „yoga lessons“: If you lead people, get to know them very well. Understand the uniqueness, talents, potentials, and limits of every single individual of your team. Only then you can push every single person constantly a bit over his/her limits. Business legend Harvey Firestone once said: “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” Sometimes I have the feeling it is a time issue in companies. But it is worth investing in employees to retain them over the long term.

Become your own yoga teacher

At the same time, I believe that we are responsible for our own growth. What when we don’t have this supportive leader above us, who gives us the valuable stretch? There is nobody, who pushes you over your limits? Then you have the choice: You can stay forever in your comfort zone or put yourself from time to time in challenging situations, that scare you in the first moment. If you listen to your inner voice you know, you can do it. And then you can become your own yoga teacher 😉 And believe me; you will grow and feel awesome! Apply for the next higher position, do a speech in front of a bigger audience or do whatever makes you feel a bit uncomfortable. Since I started my own business, I challenge myself day by day. I have to learn 1000 new things within a short period of time, and my head sometimes feels like a big sponge, that soaks up all new information. Sometimes I think I would look pretty funny if my body would transform the way I feel. Look at my nice picture 🙂 I would have a huge alien head and very long stretchy arms 😀

Picture: My funny self-portrait

I grow more than ever before because I do things that I’ve never done before. And sometimes I realize that I had limited myself in the past with minds like „you are not good at that.“ Let’s take the example sales: I never liked making direct sales and I also never had to in that dimension, I am doing it now. But the great thing is, that after this little pain from the stretch goes away I realize I can do it and I can get really good at these things, that I tried to avoid in the past years. They start to make fun, and I start to feel how I grow (unfortunately only in my mind – I am still 5,35 ft tall :-D)

I would like to invite you to become a good „yoga teacher“ for your team and yourself. What is your next uncomfortable challenge? And where do you limit yourself with your minds?
„If I can do it and you can do it, everybody can do it“! (A quote from one of my favorite movies – Rocky).

I’d love to hear your thoughts on leadership and personal development.

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