In yoga, I am very much a student. I enjoy listening to the instructor and being reminded to check-in with myself as a whole. Mind and body, I need to check in with the whole “Lyndi”. Every yoga studio I have ever attended has one key element: acceptance. You will never have an instructor tell you in order to do yoga properly or be a true yogini, you need to wear $200 yoga pants or look, act or be a certain way. There is no glory in being the fastest, doing the most repetitions or sweating the most. There is honor in treating everyone, including yourself, with respect.
Yoga Teaches Startups Keys for Success
Everyone is a Student: If you are in a startup you most likely love to learn. You have also gotten used to failing with an attitude of trying again. When you do fail, you are curious and engaged in learning ways to make the next attempt a little better. Fear is replaced with curiosity that fuels your need to ask a lot of questions.
The Power of Check-ins: In the yoga studio, the instructor may remind students five to ten times to “come back to center, find your breath”. Working for a startup we can take the responsibility to check-in for ourselves, come back to center and refocus. Take a few deep breaths, and ask yourself:
- Are there too many things going on?
- Is there something that needs to be delegated out?
- What is going on outside of work that is distracting me?
- Are there tools I need that would make things simpler?
Less is More: Mat, check. Water bottle, check. Flip flops, check. Startups need very little equipment to do what they need to do. Finding an item from Ikea in a startup office might be seen as a luxury item. Most of the tables, chairs and printers are from Craigslist or brought from home. Like yoga students, startup folks don’t expect fancy. Sometimes fancy (unless it is food) makes people nervous. Startups start everywhere, even in co-working spaces. Talented creatives work side by side, keeping overhead low. With spring around the corner it is a good time to reduce the clutter and distractions to focus on what is important and most beneficial for the team.
Everyone is Learning: Yoga makes you twist, bend and be in all kinds of giggle inducing positions. Wise startups create a culture where, even when things get funky, it is OK. Sharing and trying new ideas is welcomed and encouraged. In the studio and in the office you will find passionate people willing to learn, work and have fun while they do it. Their passion on the mat or in front of their computer is energized by being challenged and engaged. In yoga there is no set path, style or studio you have to stick with. You will get sub teachers and find yourself challenged with new kinds of poses. Startups find themselves learning more about customers, tweaking priorities, having to rebuild months of progress, and changing strategy. Everyone is learning and if you zoom out you can see it is quite beautiful.
Perseverance: When your expensive, hoping-to-go-viral video can’t even get a one measly retweet and your crow pose ends up in a belly flop on the mat, don’t give up. As my yoga instructor Nikki says, “Yoga is the art of learning to start again… and again”. Sometimes it means taking a little walk, a group huddle or a one-on-one with a leader you trust and can seek guidance from.
Remember Etiquette: There is an unofficial yoga etiquette that is widely accepted. Come to class clean with a clean mat. Arrive on time and don’t be disruptive when you come in late, join in and get focused. Both in the studio and in the office communication is key. Respect is shown by listening, keeping people informed and keeping yourself ready to take on the tasks at hand.
Relax, Don’t Tense Up: When you are in mountain pose, stand in mountain pose. If the next pose is planks, just be in the moment and stay focused on mountain pose. Relax, find your breath and don’t worry about what is coming up. The same goes for when a big project is due; work with focus yet still remain relaxed. Try to limit multitasking and just be in the moment.
Honor and Encourage: In the studio, students often encourage one another, however it is also important for students to encourage their instructors. Startups should never hold back when giving appreciation. Working long hours with tight deadlines and budgets can easily distract us that our biggest, most important assets and elements of our success: our co-workers and leaders.
Learn more about how yoga can help startups be successful by spending a few hours on the mat. For me, working for BizeeBee, a yoga studio software startup, is personally an extra special treat. I get to hear from yoga instructors, studio owners and startup folk that find themselves more relaxed, focused and ready to take on some pretty impressive challenges by approaching them one breath at a time. Namaste.