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The 4 lessons in leadership from yoga

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in Centerpiece,Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

by Scott Eblin, Next Level leadership blog

If you wander into one of my group coaching sessions after lunch, you may see people stretching their hands toward the ceiling, taking three deep breaths and bending from their waists and letting their heads hang loose for a minute or so.

The idea to call a stretch and breathing break came to me because I’ve been a regular at yoga class for the past three months. Since my compulsion is to look at most things from a leadership angle, here are a few lessons I’ve learned so far from the practice of yoga:

1. Every day is different and is its own day. One of the things yoga instructors like to say is that no two days on the mat are the same. True. Over the past two months, I’ve seen how my capabilities vary from one day to the next. That’s teaching me to be less self-critical, more patient and to pay attention to what’s working. In my own experience as a leader and in watching other leaders, those are three things worth cultivating.

Leader­ship lesson: Every day is its own day. Yesterday is over.

2. Improve­ment comes incrementally, then suddenly. One of the basic poses is called “wheel.” While lying on your back, you sort of do an upside down push-up. I worked on that for a month and a half and just could not get my head and shoulders off the ground. Then one day, I tried it and, zoom, up I went. Big surprise. Soon after, I did three wheels in a row.

Leadership lesson: Sometimes, progress is hard to observe even if it’s being made. If you give up too soon, you forgo the opportunity for sudden breakthroughs.

3. Breathing can focus you. The studio I go to puts a lot of emphasis on breathing. Lately, I’ve been getting to class without a lot of time to spare because my schedule has been packed. It’s amazing to me, though, how quickly I tune in after five minutes or so of being told to breathe in and breathe out.

Leadership lesson: If you want to show up more focused and present at your next meeting, take a couple of minutes before you walk in to just breathe in and breathe out.

4. Invest in your team and the results will follow. One reason I’ve become a regular at this studio is that the instructors are consistently good. Each exhibits his or her own personality but there is a consistent framework that they’ve been trained in. 

Leadership lesson: It’s worth the time and effort to clarify your philosophy and approach and then invest in sharing that with your team.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rick September 14, 2011 at 4:06 pm

I was very impressed with this article for two reasons. The first and most obvious reason was the value of the four leadership lessons. The second and to me more important reason was the ability of Mr. Eblin to look at another activity outside of work, and apply the lessons and disciplines he has experienced to further advance his leadership skills.


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