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How to think like a yogi for better business

How to think like a yogi for better business

Posted 22nd August, 2019 by Sarah

Some of the most successful business people of all time are renowned for seeing a concept working in one industry and using it to innovate their own sector.

Henry Ford, founder of the billion-dollar Ford vehicle empire, famously took his inspiration for his automobile production line from a meat packing plant, for example.

So, in this new series of articles, we’ll be looking beyond the realms of business, digital marketing and tech to see if we can find some nuggets of knowledge that can help companies innovate and improve in their own zones.

To start off, we’ve been looking for inspiration in the philosophies and practices of yoga. Here’s what we’ve found…

Find your drishti

In yoga, drishti means focussed gaze. In classes, especially before balancing poses, yoga teachers encourage pupils to focus on a single point and blur out anything else that’s happening around that point. The reason? It improves the pupil’s practice by getting them to tune out distractions.

In corporate environments, it can be nigh on impossible to adopt a drishti, at least for any sustained amount of time. Not least because of the omni-active inbox.

According to research by Loughborough University, 84 per cent of people keep their inboxes open all day long and the average person waits just six seconds to open an email when a notification comes through. Add to that notifications from corporate messaging apps like Slack and the result is a day full on interruptions.

Once you acknowledge the importance of maintaining a drishti at work, you can start taking steps to consciously reduce the distractions in your working life. The most obvious place to begin is with your email checking habits. Research by the University of British Colombia suggests that people should limit checking their emails to three times a day – ideally morning, noon and towards the end of the day.

Next, you could consider incorporating some ‘deep work’ time into your schedule. Dr Cal Newport, associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University, suggests that in order for people to push their cognitive capacities to their limits, and therefore get the best out of a project or task, they need to schedule regular 90 minute slots into their days where they can move away from their colleagues into a place with no distractions – like a meeting room – and do nothing but focus on the task in hand.

Listen to your body

From Fierce Grace and Rocket Yoga to Yin and Iyengar Yoga, there are hundreds of different types of yoga in the world. Teachers of all mediums, however, will advise pupils to listen to their bodies. Many classes start in a position called Child’s Pose, in which students are encouraged to do a mental scan of their bodies to take an inventory of any tightness, soreness, or low energy levels. Then, throughout classes, pupils are reminded to pay attention to how their joints and muscles are feeling to ensure they don’t push themselves further than they should on any given day.

In business today, people at all levels – from the frontline to the boardroom – rely on technology to help them make their day to day decisions. Decisions are often made off the back of data analysis and nothing more.

However, there’s evidence to suggest that trusting your gut more often at work can lead to business benefits.

In an article for Forbes called ‘Trusting Your Gut Is The Best Business Tool You've Got -- If You Can Listen’, Chip Wilson wrote: “Intuition is big data for your body. It’s the result of your body’s own algorithms processing millions of data points that surround you every day. That’s why more than 40 per cent of CEOs say they still make decisions based on intuition, despite having access to troves of empirical data.”

Another article in Inc. called ‘4 Leaders Who Won by Following Their Instincts (Despite Being Told They Were Crazy)’ highlights how some of the best business people of the 20th and 21st centuries succeeded by listening to their gut feelings.

Embrace the silence of savasana

The savasana is the final pose in all yoga classes, no matter what type. It involves pupils lying down on the mat, letting go of all the tension in their bodies, focusing on their breath, and – above all – being completely silent.

While it may look like an easy enough pose – how much effort does it take to lie down? – it’s often the one that beginner yoga students find the most difficult. The silence feels unnatural to them. They find it hard to simply switch off and shut down.

Earlier this year we wrote a blog post on how important it was to occasionally be silent in business. Called ‘ How To Listen Better for Business Boosts ’ it highlighted research that suggested that staying silent in meetings and negotiations could lead to huge benefits.

It demonstrated how bosses who embrace silence and let their employees and clients speak and lead the conversation have been shown to be more trusted, be better at conflict resolution and have higher levels of employee engagement than those who do not.

Adopt Satya and Ahimsa into your business practices

In the philosophy of yoga, there’s a concept called The Eight Limbs. Following the advice associated with these eight limbs is said to help yoga students and teachers improve their practice.

One of the limbs is known as the Yamas and it includes a list of rules to live by if yoga practitioners want to become the best yogis they can be.

One of these yamas is known as Satya. It means truth and it advises yogis to always to be truthful in thought, speech and action. Another is called Ahimsa and it means ‘non-violence’, in other words, it encourages yogis to be kind to both themselves, others and the world around them.

A company’s ethics and the way it treats the world has never been so important as it is today. Research suggests that consumers no longer expect just quality products and good customer service from the brands they buy from – they also expect those brands to have ethics and values.

A study by WE Communications, in partnership with YouGov, suggested that 97 per cent of global consumers now expect business to take an ethical approach to the way they do things, right down to the ethical use of technology.

Another study by Neilsen of 30,000 consumers around the world revealed that the majority of customers would happily pay more for a company’s goods if the business made those goods more sustainable.

Categories: Marketing, Small Businesses

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