Five years ago, while CEO of Global Music for Live Nation, I was on top of the world professionally, but personally I felt the walls closing in around me. I had just finalized my second divorce, my mom had died suddenly from cancer, I was raising two teenagers on my own, and I was trying to operate my division as an officer in a Fortune 500 company. And I felt like the pressure was going to kill me.
So many of us know this feeling, right? My situation may have been more dramatic, but more and more we are all confronting the pressures of work and home life and finding it overwhelming.
So what can we do
After spending the last few years studying with many of the world’s masters of mind, body and spirit, I’ve learned that the answer isn’t necessarily found in changing our jobs, the way I did, but rather in changing the way we approach work — from the inside out.
That’s a funny thing for the guy who left his job to study with gurus to say, right?
But I’ve learned that as stressful as some work environments are, it’s really our response to the stress that wreaks havoc on our emotional and physical health. I realize now that what I lacked in my own work experience were the tools to care for myself and find balance amid the ups and downs of business. By learning to prepare ourselves for work and life, much the way a professional athlete prepares for rigorous sports, we can give ourselves those tools to deal with the pressure and create the space we need to breathe.
For me this comes in the form of a daily practice. Here are the four things I do every day to prepare my mind, body, and spirit for the day:
Here are the four things I do daily to prepare my mind, body, and spirit for the day:
The word yoga conjures up images of stretchy pants, insane postures, and super-human flexibility. But in the context of my daily practice yoga is simply the practice, as my teacher Guru Singh says, of “stretching into the day.”
In sports we understand the value of stretching before playing. The same is true for business. To deal with the unpredictable nature of business we need to be fluid, flexible, and adaptable — and that’s what yoga fosters in the body. I like to say I do yoga each day to teach my body to bend and not break when life stretches me!
Whenever I mention meditation to my friends in business, they say “I can’t do that, my mind won’t get quiet.” The truth is that neither will my mind on many days!
It’s a misconception that in our busy world we will achieve perfect stillness of our minds all the time. For me, meditation is more about creating a quiet space to care for myself away from the noise of life. Instead of focusing on quieting the mind, I’ve learned instead to breathe in and out of my heart, filling my heart with love and healing my interior from the barrage of the business world.
Some days the result is that my mind follows suit and quiets down; on other days my mind does its own thing, and that’s OK, too. The point is to create an environment of peace and self-love.
3. Green juice
We all understand the importance happy workers bring to a business. The same is true for our bodies. In this case the workers are the community of cells that make up each of us. Just like employees in a company, the cells in our body work together to perform the daily functions our bodies need. And, just like our teammates at work, when we care for them and give them the nutrients they need the cells can perform at peak levels. Drinking at least 20 ounces of green juice a day is the most efficient way I’ve found to fuel my cells.
4. Mid-day deep breathing
Sometimes even the best morning practice can be interrupted my one of life’s crises. We get ourselves into the optimal state and then we arrive at work and find the boss yelling, customers complaining, and coworkers in a bad mood, and before long our Zen-like state is blown and we are spinning.
This is where a few deep breaths throughout the day can create the space we need to reset and expel the pent-up adrenaline. The great part about breathing is that it can be done anywhere — shut the door of your office or take a short walk around the office … and just breathe.
This routine of daily practice equips me with the tools to approach life without the “I’m gonna die” feeling work stress often generates. The key for me is to be consistent in this practice.
I look at it as an act of self-love, of caring for my body and myself, and in the process I know I’m creating the ability to adapt and perform at a higher level. This is the application of self-love in business and the path to changing our internal reaction to our work environment.