When Steve Jobs passed away, friends and family attending his funeral received a small gift from the late tech genius: Autobiography of a Yogi, a book focused on the "ancient science of Yoga and its time-honored tradition of meditation."
Like the late Jobs, more and more leaders are adapting this kind of "mindfulness" into their work environment to help decrease stress while boosting their mental state. I have also adapted this approach. After being stressed out every day and unorganized, I found that peace of mind and deep stretches helped me become a better startup leader.
For those looking to get into yoga and meditation, here are the lessons I learned and why I continue to weave mindfulness into my everyday routine.
1. Enables a relaxed state of mind.
In the past, I would wake up in the morning and something would go wrong. My alarm wouldn’t go off, the coffee I had was below par or I'd still bothered by an email I received the previous night. This lead to a negative attitude that my team picked up on. To prevent this, I meditate 10 minutes each morning as soon as I wake up. After trying a handful of mediation applications, I've found the Headspace Meditation App to be the most effective (but there are plenty of other ones out there). Regardless of how your approach morning meditation, it is just important that you approach it. It helps get your day off to a good start and clear your mind.
2. Helps build confidence.
As a leader, I'm always in situations where I need to be courageous. Whether it’s going into a big time sales meeting or giving a pump-up speech to my team, I have to make sure I have a confident mindset to get results. Both yoga and meditation have helped me get rid of negative thoughts before high intensity situations. By learning to ignore negative thinking, I worry a lot less about what about could go wrong. This allows me you visualize the perfect outcome, giving me a huge confidence boost.
For others, it is important to stay present and ignore the negative talk in your head, as it is just talk.
3. Reduces stress.
Being a CEO of a startup, it's easy for me to focus all my attention on small problems. This causes me to ignore larger issues and hurts my effectiveness. By integrating a yoga practice into my schedule, I was able to relax.
During yoga, the best mindset to have is one that does not focus on your worries. Try to schedule your yoga in the morning, before you lay out your daily schedule. By doing so, your mind is clear, and you are able to prioritize better.
4. Bolsters Creativity.
Both mediation and yoga have helped. So many times, leaders get stuck in a certain way of thinking and don’t acknowledge a wide variety of different ways to attack an issue. Yoga and meditation changed that for me. Now I am able to attack problems with an outside perspective. By getting rid of tunnel vision, I've been able to put together patterns and solutions without even trying to do so.
Like most things, it will take dedication and patience to reap all the benefits of yoga. The key is to learn to focus more on finding your own peace of mind rather than trying to force yourself to develop a new mindset.
Without the right state of mind, it is impossible to be a great leader.