One of my core beliefs is that we are most happy when we feel we’re making progress in our lives. It’s painful for us to remain stagnant in life. In fact, growth is not an option; it’s a necessity. Grow or die. That is the biological imperative that all living organisms experience.
"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin
I recently challenged myself to grow in a very specific area, and never fully realized the impact this decision would have in multiple areas of my life. I took up yoga as a part of my daily practices to support myself in health and well-being.
Now, that decision at face value might not seem so noteworthy. But there are some specifics that make it much more interesting – at least for me. I’m 51 years old, and have never done yoga until a few months ago. Oh, and did I say that I’m about as flexible as a board? Yeah, I’m that guy who can’t touch his toes with legs straight (and not because my belly is too big to allow it!).
“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” – Albert Einstein
I have worked out for more than 30 years, consisting mainly of weightlifting and cardiovascular exercise. I have always liked the feeling of exertion and pushing against resistance.
First of all, yoga is challenging for anyone at any level of health and wellness. I have friends who are yoga instructors who tell me that there is nothing in the world like yoga for “bringing up my stuff.” I don’t know about you, but that isn’t exactly enticement for me.
My first few times, I resisted. (Understatement!) Actually, at times I became angry (internally) that I was so inflexible, and unable to manage or hold some of the beginner’s poses. I realized this was very much the same way I have been resistant to change throughout my life. How about you? Do you resist when it comes to change?
Over time, and in listening to my instructor, I began to understand yoga’s true purpose. He would look at us and say, “The goal is to stop resisting. Find the calm in the challenge. Surrender to the pose.” Sure, easy for you to say! Your hamstrings aren’t on fire! Then it struck me. This is about way more than the ability to stretch my body and touch my toes. This is an opportunity to learn, grow, and become more.
Here are some of the things I’m learning about leadership from yoga:
“All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.” – Calvin Coolidge
In the weeks since I’ve begun, I can’t truly say I’ve learned to “love” yoga, or even that I’ve finally become flexible and can touch my toes. But I can tell you this; I have learned more about my ability to be with discomfort and challenge and to remain calm, focused, and engaged.
That sounds like great leadership training to me!
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Kevin Ciccotti, Human Factor Formula
Helping companies create sustainable, effective teams that are committed to the success of their projects, the organization, and the individuals with whom they work