Skillful action for business yoginis

Getting stuff done and being productive = important

To succeed in business we have to be able to take decisive action and take the steps necessary to nurture and grow our businesses. But sometimes, it's not as "productive" as it might seem.

I was talking with a client the other day about what's coming up, all the stuff that is on her plate. This woman is incredibly accomplished and obviously very adept at "doing". Currently she is in transition and is crystal clear about her vision for a sustainable life/business model that includes time for herself, time for her family, and time for fun, as well as a thriving business business.

I asked what was going to stop her from being able to follow through with her intention, and she said, "Sometimes I just get lazy and work a lot."

Whoa!

We talked about how the mindset of action and doing has become somewhat of a disease in our culture.  We pad our to-do lists and avoid being present to the messiness of our relationships with our bodies, our co-workers, our spouses, our kids, our friends... even the world.  Her statement hit close to home -- I love to "do" and it feels so good to get stuff done, to accomplish, to create, and to do things where I (and I alone) control the outcome.

But is it the right thing to do?

Sometimes my "doing" is not so skillful and my time would be better spent talking with my husband, or playing with my daughter, cooking a meal, or on my yoga mat.

Showing up on the mat on a regular basis teaches us discernment about our actions, another reason practice is so vital - to stay centered and connected to ourselves and the present moment where all the messiness happens. The investigation on the mat leads to skillful action in our yoga practice... Am I pushing too hard in this pose?  Is my breath ragged?  Am I engaging my legs the correct amount?  Are my bones sagging or are they pulled up, in alignment?

This investigation begins to take place off the mat, as well....  Am I hiding from a difficult talk with my kid by working right now?  Am I avoiding putting my financials together because I don't want to see it?  Am I tired?  Does my body need rest?  Is my mind functioning well or do I need a break?

Yoga helps us discern when we are using action to hide and when we are taking action because it's the right thing to do.  When we are consistently connected to our bodies and our breath through our yoga practice, we are more present with what is ground-zero truth.

This morning, I was working on a Yoga Primer for The Business Yoginis Circle, a community of women in business who want to explore the path of yoga as a way to support themselves and their business.  I've been immersed in this for weeks, focused intently.  In the primer I wrote this:

"A lament I hear from many business yoginis is the difficulty in getting stuff done, even though busy-ness abounds.  Making the commitment to step on the mat each day and following through with it has the not-so-surprising benefit of developing our ability to get the right stuff done.  Why?  When we develop skillful discipline in one area of our lives, it spills into others.

On the mat, we learn how to show up for our bodies, our breath, and our minds.  In our business, we learn how to courageously show up for what needs to be done to grow our business, despite our fear or overwhelm."

When I wrote this, I was imagining women who are paralyzed by the sheer volume of work they need to do.  At the same time, I had a yoga date written on my calendar that I was "too busy" to follow through with.  I wrote the above section and as I re-read it, I recognized myself and my client from yesterday.

Action can be just as much an avoidance of what we need to do as paralysis and fear.  They are two ends of the same spectrum.  Skillful action might sometimes be very busy and sometimes it may be very relaxed.  But skillful action is always aligned with your deepest held values.

This week, I invite you to take stock of your own habitual style.  What are the right actions to take today?  Do you need to take more action or less?  Step into the present moment and practice skillful action, yogini-style.

Namasté to you, business yoginis!

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Posted on September 2, 2010 and filed under Getting sh!t done, On being a business yogini, On the Yoga Mat.