Leadership Training California Style

Where else but in California would you find leadership training courses with yoga? It might seem trendy, yet, yoga wisdom is ancient so be careful before you laugh.

On the other hand, go ahead and laugh. At Joy of Leadership, one of the yogic principles we teach in our leadership and management courses is "To Lead is to Laugh."

According to the ancient Chinese book of wisdom, the I Ching:

"The joyous mood is infectious and brings success. Intimidation will work sometimes but not for long. On the other hand, when hearts are won with friendliness, people will take on all hardships for you, even death itself, so great is the power of joy over people." - I Ching

At Joy of Leadership, we say: To be successful, lighten up. And the harder your work is, the more you need to lighten up. Your hope for a bright future depends on it.

Another yoga and leadership principle we teach at Joy of Leadership is "To Lead is to Connect." The word yoga in Sanskrit means "union" (or "yoke.") Individual work is weak. Teamwork is strong. Learning to connect with your team, then connecting them to each other, brings success.

Picture a mountain. It is not intimidated by a storm. It surrenders to the circumstances and remains stable. Learning the yogic "Mountain Pose" and the philosophy behind it will help you avoid the pressure that comes with challenging situations. There's no need to act prematurely or jump to your first conclusion. When you learn to be still, standing steady and quiet like a mountain, you won't have to grasp for the quickest solution.

Yoga creates energy. Impatience scatters it. New endeavors always include chaos. The Mountain Pose helps you to relax during chaotic beginnings. When you learn the yogic concept of "stability before mobility," it will help you to be comfortable with non-action until the right thing to do becomes clear. This should provide greater opportunities, and make it possible to expand your horizons.

In the West, we've come to think of yoga as just physical postures. Exercise. But it is much more than that. Yoga unites your mind, your body, and your emotions. Forward bends are relaxing and calm your nerves. Backbends are invigorating. Twists increase flexibility and make you more open-minded. Wouldn't that be helpful to you in a leadership position?

I've been writing and speaking about leadership for years and practicing yoga even longer. I first recognized the connection between leadership and yoga while I was helping a corporate executive prepare a speech. His demeanor was weak. He didn't have oomph. It was disappointing, so I asked him to stand in the warrior pose to practice the speech.

He got better. Hmmm. But it still wasn't strong enough. Finally, I said, "You were given that big body. Use it to serve." Wow. Something happened to him. He looked like a Picasso painting going into alignment. He stood up straight, shoulders back, relaxed. No longer slouching. No longer limp. Both he and the speech became powerful. He went home pleased, as was I.
The next day his wife called and asked, "What did you do to him?"
"I don't know," I replied, "What do you mean?"

"He came home transformed," she explained, and then continued, "He has always been afraid that other people are frightened of big, black men. His entire life he has tried to make himself look smaller. When you said, 'You were given that big body. Use it to serve, he suddenly saw himself in a new light."

He had to be stable in his own body to be effective. He had to know who he was before he could reach out. A balanced attitude makes it possible to influence others in a positive way.

Yoga is not a twisted body. Not someone lying on a bed of nails. Not a technique nor an exercise. Yoga is about being in balance .stilling the fluctuations of the mind, according to the ancient definition in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.

As a leader, you need balance so you no longer reel between hope and fear, expansion and contraction, pain and pleasure, success, and failure. When you are in balance you function at your best. Your natural abilities flow out. You have more energy and experience more happiness and contentment.

Leadership requires a connection with others. Seeing people and being seen. In our leadership and management courses in Los Angeles, we teach how to create cooperation, how to motivate people to listen to you, and how to attract support plus the yoga wisdom of balance, flexibility, and dharma (do the right thing). Wouldn't that be useful in a leadership position?

No yoga pants required. The yoga is tranquil enough to do at your desk in a suit or stilettos.

- Shar McBee

Shar McBee: Leadership with a Twist of Yoga

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