Last week I wrote about my focus for 2021 and wanting to be more aware of when I’m not living my values, particularly when it comes to integrity and doing the right thing even when nobody is watching, and this week I want to take this a step further and talk about 10 principles.
I’m a keen yogi, I have a daily practice and at the end of last year, after five years of putting it off, I started my Yoga Teacher Training, quite what I’ll do with it when I’m qualified I have no idea yet, but I come alive when I’m on the mat and I wanted to take my learning deeper.
One of things I love about the yoga practice that I have, is not just the movement and practice on the mat, but the lessons it teaches when I’m off the mat. Back in 2019 I wrote about 5 things that yoga and HR have in common, and today I want to take this a step further.
At the start of every new year, the first 10 weeks of the new yoga term are always focused on these principles by my teachers, and I think if we could move more toward these principles in our lives and in our leadership, we could see the shift that’s needed in the world of work. These principles are thousands of years old and perhaps are needed more today in business than they may have been back then.
Finding our courage, creating balance, dealing with powerlessness, self-love, being kind to others, developing compassion.
Imagine that we started with being kind to ourselves, setting boundaries, positive and encouraging self-talk, and from here, we were kind to others. What if, each of our conversations and every one of our meetings started from a place of kindness and compassion? Rather than rolling our eyes when someone else gives an opinion, or using the chat function on Zoom to slag off one of your colleagues to someone else, imagine how different our interactions would be, and our output, if we started from a place of kindness!
What if, instead of taking the ideas and work of others and passing it off as our own, we gave the credit to the person who really came up with it?
Giving honest feedback is kind, giving praise is kind, being truthful is kind.
Being real rather than being nice, self-expressions vs self-indulgence, the need to belong vs the need to grow, do it right the first time, truth is fluid, truth has weight, the power of truth
The difference it would make if we were honest with ourselves and with others! If we were honest about where we needed to grow, how we’re feeling today and honest about the changes or challenges in our teams and across our organisations right now. How different would it be if rather than leaders saying nothing, or giving us corporate speak, they said ‘it’s tough’, or, ‘we have no updates but you’ll hear as soon as we do’, or, ‘we made a mistake and we’re going to fix it’.
What difference would it make instead of ‘ok’ being the generic response when someone asks you how you’re feeling, you were honest, whether you’re feeling good, bad or indifferent.
Too many of us at the moment are too afraid of saying when we feel like crap because we don’t want others to think we’re not coping, whilst too many of us are afraid to say that everything is going really well for them because they don’t want to make anyone feel bad.
Not stealing from others, not stealing from the earth, not stealing from the future, not stealing from ourselves, shifting our focus, building our competence
If you’re late for a meeting or you don’t show up at all, you are stealing time from someone else. If you allow your meeting to overrun, you are stealing someone’s time. If you are the constant nay-sayer you are stealing someone’s energy. If you are always wanting to be the centre of attention, you are stealing the attention from others.
Non-excess, taming our over-indulgence
Being busy and stressed is not a badge of honour, sometimes it’s good to let go the busyness and all of the extra hours and just allow yourself to be. We don’t always need more meetings, more clients, more business, more goals, sometimes it’s good to deliver better service to the clients we already have, sometimes it’s good to perfect the work we’re already doing instead of adding more.
Whilst new business, more money and the next promotion can be incredible things to strive for, there’s also a lot to be said for being grateful for where you are.
Giving to others, what we possess possesses us
Giving our time to help others or listen to others can be a wonderful thing to do. Being generous with our knowledge and our skills and can be a great way for other people to learn.
Being generous with compliments and praise and the truth is also a wonderful thing to give.
Purity as a cleansing process, purity as relational, gathering the scattered pieces of ourselves
Knowing how we are at the core and being collected in our thoughts and actions and deeds is a great way to lead. Letting go of ego and what we think we SHOULD be doing can be very different to being who we are.
If we were more ourselves and less of everyone else’s expectations would change our workplaces for the better, of that I have no doubt.
Pleasure and avoidance, we are always responsible for our own disturbances, gratitude, maintaining centre, the paradox of not seeking
If we were content with where we are, how much less stress, how much less competition and bad mouthing and pressure and control and command would we be able to eradicate from our organisations?
And what a nice place that would be
What if, instead of always having to focus on goals and outcomes and achieving more, we got pleasure instead from the practice of doing our work and being ourselves?
What if the practice of great customer service was a key role rather than how many calls we could answer in an hour? What if rather than following a process we practiced listening to the viewpoint of people around us? What if instead of having to control everything whilst we strive for perfection, we practiced leading to the best of our best of our abilities on any given day? And what if instead of having to be the person who shouts loudest to get their idea across the line, we practiced listening to the ideas of others?
Growth, learning, development, self-reflection, not being afraid to look back
What if, our workplaces allowed time for self-study and growth? What if we created learning environments for all of our people, and not just with the job-related stuff?
We may have customer service assistants studying robotics in their garages and this skill helps them develop problem solving. We may have customer service advisors who are amazing artists and are visually able to capture the needs of our customers. We may have leaders who study holistic therapy and they recognise how when every part of the company works brilliantly then the entire company succeeds instead of one top performing team.
What if, instead of jumping from project to project and goal to goal, the time was really taken to evaluate what happened last time to help you do better next time? Slowing down can help you move forward faster.
Letting go, releasing, engaging, accepting
What if, instead of fighting to get all of our people back to offices in 2021, we accepted that the world has changed and that we need to lead and engage differently acknowledging that our people may all want and need different things.
What if we let go of the pressure and were a lot kinder in our actions, thoughts and deeds? What if big growth wasn’t on the agenda for this year and instead the focus was on stabilising, reflecting and moving at a slower pace to help us achieve a different goal that adds more value?
What if we all led more from our core values and less from the textbooks that have gotten us this far? What if we acknowledged that the world of work has changed and in order for us to be the best leaders that we can be, we need to be much more human and much more us.
How would this allow us to put our people first and change the world of work?
Kelly is an Executive Coach for Rebellious Leaders at kellyswingler.com and Founder of The Chrysalis Crew.
She leads and coaches with an open heart, an open mind and has the courage to challenge the status quo and do things differently so that we can all love our roles, find balance in our lives and so that we can all change the world of work for the better.