Do business tasks have to feel scary or stressful?
I’ve been going through a lot of changes in how I think about my business.
Since 2009, I’ve had a deep desire to create a community where pregnant women, moms, and the teachers and practitioners who support them could all enjoy yoga, education, and community.
But my path has been a windy one.
When I first fell in love with online learning as a busy new mom, I knew I wanted to use this technology to be able to connect with people all over the world.
But I had no clue how to make it happen.
I had a lot of fear and self-doubt and every new software I had to learn sent me spiraling into “I can’t.”
So I got coaching, took businesses and marketing classes, and hired people to do some of it.
My first website had 100 blogs on it, but a someone told me it was “put together with bandaids.” My marketing person told me how it should look in order to “convert” people, and we re-did everything.
There are so many manipulative marketing practices out there that are so common we think it’s how it has to be.
Scarcity (“you must buy this now!”). Motivating people to say yes (“I really hope you’ll take advantage of this great offer.”) Bait and switch webinars that start as a workshop and end as a sales pitch (“now that you know this, how much would you pay to…”).
I was never comfortable with any of it, and didn’t do it that much, but I felt bad about the fact that I didn’t, like I wasn’t nurturing my business enough, and I would never have a sustainable business.
And then I met George Kao, Authentic Marketing Coach, who is the closest thing to a spiritual teacher I’ve had for 20 years.
He’s done the work implementing gentle, honestly caring and truthful practices, and he’s shown by his own success that you don’t have to entice or ensnarl people in a web to create a sustainable business that allows you to offer your gifts to the world.
And it got me to thinking. If I were to truly align my business with my deepest values, then shouldn’t my business practices feel more like my yoga practice?
Here are five ways that yoga principles have helped me to keep my business growing in a way that feels good to me, and I think to others. I’m not going to lie – being a solopreneur is never easy, but if we’re aligned with our soul’s purpose more often than not, it’s deeply satisfying.
I still have stressful days and times when am miserable dealing with tech issues, I’m not going to lie.
But I have longer and longer periods where as I’m doing my business practices conistently, lightly, even joyfully. Which leaves me feeling more like what I feel on the yoga mat: grounded, calm and connected.
1. Take Baby Steps
We wouldn’t decide one day “tomorrow I’m going to do a full Pincha Mayurasana (forearm balance) in the middle of the room,” if we haven’t practiced it in years.
So why in business would we (do I) make sweeping decisions, like going from not having a website to deciding we’re need to have one by next week?
We practice poses in baby steps – first we might try forearm downward dog, then one leg up, then half forearm balance at the wall…
If you have a big goal in mind, what’s the littlest step you could take toward it tomorrow?
That’s all you need to know. Just do that one little thing tomorrow and you get to feel great.
After that practice, we’ll take a breath and honor ourselves, and then we can pick the next baby step to practice.
2. Be Willing to Look Foolish
If you’ve done yoga for any amount of time, you know falling and failing is all part of the self-discovery process.
We know yoga isn’t about competing with anyone else, beating ourselves up, or being so focused on “getting” the pose that we’re not breathing.
The yoga is the choice to lovingly move ourselves all the way to our growth edge and breathe there. That’s when we get to experience our limits expanding beyond where we thought they could go.
In order to even find our edge in the first place, we’re going to have to fall over a few times.
We discover what’s possible for us not by meditating on it, or setting our intention on it, or visualizing it.
We discover what’s possible by actually doing something that moves us toward it.
Of course, many of us tend to want to be perfect by the time we do anything publicly.
But if I go by this same principle, I realize it’s vital just to create and put things in to the world even if they’re not perfect, even in fact they’re kinda bad.
It’s the only way to learn what’s possible, it’s the only way to move forward, and it’s the only way to eventually connect with the people who are needing what we are here on this earth to offer.
3. Freedom Comes From Boundaries
This is something it took me years of yoga to learn. I loved going for the deep stretch in every pose.
Thankfully, I had a wonderful teacher named Anthony Benenati who called me “loosey-goosey.” He taught me to back out of the stretch and use my strength.
Once I learned to stabilize first in a pose, the freedom I experienced as I went deep was a whole other thing from stretching.
Creating safe boundaries meant energy could flow in a whole new way through my body, and now when I went deep in a pose I felt both grounded and free far beyond just physically.
I think a lot of us tend to want to go boundary-less for our businesses. I hear these “spiritual” concepts a lot:
“The right people will find me.” “I just haven’t been inspired lately.” “I’m doing a lot of practices around being open to receive money.”
Even spirit needs boundaries.
Where we create boundaries, energy flows.
Create boundaries around your business practics in your schedule, so you show up for the challenging business “poses” each week.
Create channels through which your people can find you as they’re scrolling or watching.
Create stability before you stretch yourself into new places.
Energy flows more easefully through boundaries.
4. Just Show Up
My very first yoga teacher, Denise Benitez, used to say: just show up, I’ll do the rest.
It was so comforting, and it felt really true.
Yes, I was working hard on my mat, but I didn’t have to analyze how I was doing, or worry that I wasn’t doing enough.
I just had to show up and do the poses.
It was a huge revelation!
It’s also is a big one for our business practices.
Lately I’ve been using FocusMate, a free service that lets you schedule work sessions with strangers on a Zoom-like platform.
You show up, tell each other what you’re wanting to accomplish in that hour, put yourselves on mute and get to work.
I thought I would feel weird and self-conscious, but I forget all about them – and yet I’m aware enough not to go wandering off to see if maybe I should put a load of laundry in or make that doctor’s appointment.
Whatever YOU need to do to just show up for your next authenticly challenging business practice – do it.
Maybe it’s a weekly accountability partner, or a promise of a special outing to ao place you love after, or a co-working session.
Put it in place so you can show up for yourself.
5. Your Pose Will Be Like No One Else’s
We all learn this in yoga. Our pose will like unique, because it’s an expression of who we are in this moment. Even the next moment we’ll be different, and the next.
We know not to compare our poses to others. If we do, we bring ourselves back. We say “it’s just yoga”.
Yet in business, we often think ours shares or offerings or practices should like more like other people’s.
We say “All the successful businesses do it this way.”
Just like your poses, your business will be unlike anyone else’s.
Some bonus ways to make your business practices feel more like your yoga practice:
- Make sure you have a way that people can find out about your offerings, enter into a karmic exchange with you and pay you for sharing your gifts.
- Let people know about these offerings gently, like an invitation to a party. Don’t push anyone, don’t insist they come now or never, don’t create invitations all in red that you don’t like.
- Let everything you do reflect your spirit. Let how your expressions look be unique – even weird.
- And in a very real way, bring yoga into your business. Have a quick energy reset practice (here’s mine) so when you start stressing out or doubting yourself or trying to do something like someone else – you can come back to your deepest desires for your short time on this earth.
If you have (or want to have) a soul-driven business, to share your soul’s passion and compassion with others, you’ll create offerings in the overlap of what you’re passionate about and what people actually want, and in the process you’ll allow yourself to be visible.
It may never feel easy – but just like that pincha mayarasana, that day you actually do it will feel pretty good.
And then you’ll set your sights on the next pose…
Now, stop listening to me and go take your own next unique baby step.