I’m unsure what brought me to “the mat,” but I started a regular yoga practice about three years ago. You might be asking yourself right about now, “What does yoga have to do with leadership or employee engagement?” Keep reading, I assure you there is a connection.
My life before yoga, I was full of angst. You see, I suffer from anxiety. While this condition runs in my family, the catalyst that pushed me slowly over the cliff was the sudden family death in 2006. Anxiety started to impact the way that I would interact with people daily. I suppose, my subconscious at the time was telling me that I had to make a change. That change happened one Thanksgiving break when I stepped into my first yoga class in years.
Yoga has made me more self-aware.
Yoga has given me the ability to appreciate myself in ways that I did not before. Yoga is a journey, not a destination. Some days during my practice, I feel like I can conquer that new balance pose. Others, I feel like I have two left feet. Yoga has made me aware that not only am I capable of pushing myself harder, but some days, I don’t have the bandwidth and it’s ok.
This has made me more self-aware as a leader. I recognize that some days, I need help from others. Some days, my team needs me to be present. We can learn from each other in sync with one another. We are all engaged, more present, and more aware of when someone else needs to take the reins for a bit.
Yoga has made me nicer.
Many of you that know me well are probably laughing at this statement. I can hear it now. “You’ve always been nice.” While I may have been nicer to others, I’m not always nice to myself. In fact, a close mentor of mine once told me, “I’ve never met anyone who beats themselves up like you do.” Yoga has made me embrace that I am human, not perfect and that’s ok. In turn, that has made it easier for me to create a safe place for my team to engage and I realize, not everyone gets to the finish line using the same steps I do and that is ok.
If you ask me, I say that yoga has been life-changing for me, but I also recognize I’m not perfect. As a leader, I still am conscious of what skills I need to work on.
I still suffer from bouts of lack of confidence and imposter syndrome. There have been times when I have put off ideas because I lacked confidence. I work every day and strive for small wins to continue to build my confidence as a business owner and leader in my industry.
My boundaries still need work on occasion. While the skill of setting boundaries has improved for me over the years, I still struggle with taking on too much or not saying no in areas where I do not have the capacity to help. Time and awareness will help me improve this skill.
If you are looking to improve your leadership skills, I would encourage you to reflect on a space or activity where you are given the ability to self-reflect. What might that be for you? If it happens to not be yoga, I won’t hold it against you.