13 Business Lessons From Yoga

Yoga.

The simple use of the word can create a variety of emotions in different people.  Soothing. Hard.  Refreshing. Exhausting.  Stretching. Pain. Essential. Crazy. Relaxation. Stressful.  Wonderful. Nutty.

Yes, yoga can be both an essential component of life for some, and for others is a completely foreign concept.  And for most of us that do yoga, it’s a form of great exercise, where we can push our physical limits and help us improve.

This morning’s yoga class.

While I was in class this morning, learning a variety of new poses, having my instructor (Chad) helping us achieve pretzel like positions that I didn’t realize that my old bones could still do…I was thinking about what I could learn from yoga about business and entrepreneurship. Many of these ideas came to me while I was twisting my legs and arms in positions that previously I would have considered unnatural.  But clearly it helped me clear my mind and learn more about my business interests.

Here is what I learned about entrepreneurship and business from yoga:

Yoga is not for everybody.  Neither is entrepreneurship. Or business.  You need to want to do commit to it yourself.  Just like yoga…if you are not committed to doing it right…you will never succeed in business without commitment.

Yoga is harder that it looks. Yoga can look deceptively simple.  It looks easy..until you try it.  Just like entrepreneurship and business. You look at other people running businesses and you see the EASY parts.  You see the FUN parts.  It looks easy….until you do it yourself.  THEN you realize how truly difficult it is to do it right. And you gain a new found respect for successful entrepreneurs and business owners.

It’s easier to do it wrong than it is to do correctly. Yoga positions can be done two ways.  Correctly and poorly.  When done correctly, it is much harder, but you get far more from your effort.  Doing the positions in a sloppy manner can also have you THINK you are doing yoga, but you are only doing a poor imitation, and you won’t get as much out of it. Entrepreneurship and business is the same.  Practice it in a precise and correct manner can be more difficult to do…but you will achieve more and a longer lasting result than practicing in a sloppy manner.  Just like in yoga.

Most of the time you don’t do it right at first. That’s why you need to be ready to adapt to mistakes and learn from them.  Re-tool and then attack your business / entrepreneurial endeavor again.  When doesn’t work the first time…it only means it didn’t work that time…and you have to be able to pick yourself up and restart.  So plan on failures, before you achieve success.

Sometimes you are upside-down, but when you right yourself, you are stronger for it. In yoga, I have found myself looking at my feet with a background of the ceiling.  Certainly disorienting initially. But when you come out of that pose, you feel better and you become more accustomed to strange perspectives.  In business and as an entrepreneur, you have to be able to feel comfortable looking, and approaching, your business from different perspectives.  From the client. From the supplier.  From the customer…and on.  With each new perspective that you use, your business becomes stronger.

It’s best to have a coach. You can learn yoga yourself from a book, but it’s not the same.  Just like in business and as an entrepreneur.  Having a coach can help you stay objective and gain different perspectives.  They can help you make quantum leaps faster and more confidentially, and can help you avoid serious mistakes.  And they can help you learn the RIGHT way of doing things..both in business and yoga. 

You don’t do it as well at home as you do in a dedicated facility. Okay, so you have a home business.  That’s fine for some business, but for most entrepreneurial businesses you will need to move out of your house and get your own place.  Just like yoga, you will be more serious about your activities when you have a dedicated location where you DO your job.  It helps keep you focused when you are there…just like doing yoga at a studio, instead of in front of the TV with a CD instruction playing.

There are multiple different versions of yoga. There are different approaches to yoga.  Hot yoga.  Flow yoga. Static yoga.  And in business, you can approach what you do in different ways also.  Just like selecting the type of yoga that you like to do, and are most successful at, you should determine how you want to approach your business.  Small one-person operation?  Many employees?  Outsourcing of services?  Off shore? Domestic?  Figure out what works best for you and then stick with it.

The more you do it, the better you get at it. This is a no brain-er.  The more you do of anything…the better you will get at it.  Running your business.  Developing yourself as an entrepreneur. Honing your innovation skills.  All of these will get better and better the more you use them.

The return on your investment isn’t immediate. Anyone who has practiced yoga knows that it takes a LONG time to become an expert.  Maybe your entire lifetime.  And you do start to see immediate benefits, but they are small.  The really big payoff is when you have practiced for a long, long time.  And then one day, you realize that it has all paid off.  It might be great flexibility and health from yoga, or it may be from getting that big fat check when your business has been sold.  

It’s more fun to do with others. How often do you see a yoga class of one person?  Not often.  And successful businesses are not much different.  It’s more fun, and productive, to be working with others. The sum of our parts is greater than they are individually. 

Sometimes when you are making the most progress, you are the most sore. Do you have a successful business?  Has it always been smooth and easy?  I would guess not.  During those times when you have cash flow shortages because of inventory needs, or perhaps 18 hour days when you don’t have anyone to help out when you have a massive increase in business, are not much different than doing some new poses in yoga.  There is some soreness before the benefit.  But stick with it and you will find that you excel beyond your starting state. You will be sore for a while, but that will go away in time.

It’s best to learn from others first. It’s not easy to start a business with no experience.  Just like in yoga, it’s not easy to achieve the right form of the positions without help.  In both cases, you may not even realize what you need to do…thereby jeopardizing the potential of your achieving your goal at all, both in Yoga and business.

What do YOU have to add?

I am sure that there are a number of additional lessons for Entrepreneurship and Business that can be learned from yoga. Perhaps YOU have some that you can share below.
Oh…and by the way…that is NOT me in the image for this post.  If I tried to do that, well it wouldn’t be pretty!

Share your experiences in business below, and help other EntrepreneurialPractice readers.

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