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More Leadership Lessons from Yoga

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Over the past couple of years, I’ve been in one yoga class or another five or six days a week on average. That might sound like a lot, but it’s pretty much the only form of exercise I do anymore so it’s a good way for me to keep the lights on. As I’ve written here several times, I’ve made a number of connections between what I learn on the yoga mat and leadership development in general. This week, I’ve been thinking about another one. It’s the benefits of staying in the room.

When I’m in Northern Virginia, I go to a place called Down Dog Yoga. The studio is heated to around 96 degrees and humidified to about 50 percent. Needless to say, you sweat a lot in a 90 minute class in those conditions. It’s not exactly comfortable. Invariably, at the beginning of every class, the instructor will ask everyone to stay in the room for the full 90 minutes. She’ll remind you to take a break whenever you need one but to stay in the room as you take it. And, invariably, there will always be people that leave the room anyway.

There are a lot of reasons that aficionados call yoga a practice. One of the biggest is that it can be practice for the rest of your life. Staying in the room is an example of that. Whether it’s a 96 degree yoga classroom, a conference room where you’re hashing it out or a job that just got a lot harder, your life as a leader will regularly present choice points on whether or not you stay in the room.

Here are some of the benefits of staying in the room:

You reset your triggers: Last night, a guy left the room about 15 minutes before class ended. I was talking with the instructor afterward and she said he always leaves the room at that point. He has some sort of mental, physical or emotional trigger that makes him roll up his mat and leave 75 minutes into the class. If, one night, he decided to hang in and stay in the room past that point, he’d begin to reset his trigger.

You learn new things: If that guy stayed in the room, he might learn that the last 15 minutes are the best part of the class. If he stayed in the room, he might learn some new things about himself. If he stayed in the room, he might learn some new skills. If he stayed in the room, he might learn more about the people around him when he talked with them after class. Those same kinds of lessons are also available by staying in rooms that don’t have anything to do with yoga.

You make progress: If you stay in the room, you give yourself a better chance to make progress. If you stay in the room, you give yourself a better chance to finish something. If you stay in the room, you set the example for others and grow the capacity of your team. As they say at charity auctions, you must be present to win. That’s one more benefit of staying in the room.

What’s your take? What makes you stay in the room or leave? What patterns or lessons have you learned about staying in the room?

(Image via iofoto/Shutterstock.com)

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

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