In 2009 I made a radical change. I quit a high-paying, promising corporate career to pursue a dream: to build and run a retreat center in Mexico. I was beginning to deepen my yoga practice at the time and it wasn't long before I found many resonances between creating a successful business and practicing yoga.
When I started Xinalani (pronounced she-nah-lah-knee) with my wife and in-laws, we had no experience whatsoever in hotel management. We all shared a clear vision of what we wanted to accomplish on that magical beach in Mexico, but we just weren't quite sure how to get there. What finally paved the way to our achievement was actually quite simple — all we had to do was tap into what we had learned in yoga class.
Here are three ways that yoga can help you succeed in business and manifest what you truly want in life:
1. Set an intention.
In business and yoga, we must begin by setting an intention. Throughout the class your teacher invites you to remind yourself of your intention, while you move through increasingly challenging poses. When I'm stretching and sweating my way from Downward Dog to Pigeon and I find myself cursing at those tight hamstrings and tensed hips flexors, I enjoy being recalled to my intention. What am I devoting this practice to? What it is that I mean to achieve? What is the vision for this endeavor?
Intentions are paramount to success in business. They root deeply in your subconscious and drive you towards your goals, helping you overcome obstacles and hardship along the way.
So every Monday on your commute to work, try setting an intention for the week ahead. Not a goal or a to-do list, but an intention. Let's say this week you want to promote more respect within your company. Try your best to subtly plant this "respect" seed in each meeting or in one-on-one interactions with staff, associates and stake holders. The pay-off for your business will be huge, I assure you.
2. While building a successful business, do no harm.
During the building phase of our retreat center, adhered to the non-harming rule in the yoga sutras coined by Pantanjali as ahimsa. This non-violence based behavior (also later embodied by much of Gandhi's political work) should inspire us business men and women.
Construction is complicated and costly, yet our approach was to "honor" our piece of land by not harming the vegetation and wildlife that lives on it. At Xinalani, we found a way of co-habitating with nature by being strict in our eco-friendly principles.
When you are in business, you're in action mode. You are constantly working and fighting to defend your bottom line and each day step closer toward financial freedom.
While this may sometimes stress you out, it's in your best interest to harm no one or nothing along the way, including yourself and your body. Just remember to aim for what's good for everyone.
3. When hiring and training staff, look for the "Namaste effect."
On our remote island, we had limited availability to the workforce. Many of the locals who applied for jobs at our property had very little training or required backgrounds for the positions they were inquiring. The few candidates with some work experience in their field definitely had a competitive edge.
But after a few negative experiences hiring the most qualified applicants we could find, we understood that the key to hiring was to set skills aside and look for the "Namaste effect." This may sound goofy to you, but it works.
Namaste means, "The Spirit within me recognizes the Spirit within you." Every being has a light within themselves — that spark that we share is what connects us all as living beings. Whenever I looked deeply into a candidate's soul and saw that their light was shining brightly, I was sure that I found a solid employee. We changed our strategy and decided to hire folks that displayed genuine kindness.
Despite what every hotel management textbook will tell you, there's only so much you can teach a person when it comes to hospitality and service jobs. Genuine kindness was and still is the key factor of success for us. We look for candidates that selflessly help with a smile on their face, no matter what it takes. I'm not saying they'll turn down a nice tip from a satisfied guest, but it won't be their primary motive for service.
In business and in yoga, remember it's not about how well you do it, it's about how good it feels. Regardless of what industry you're in, it's not about doing a flawless job (believe me, there will always be screw-ups!), it's about making your clients feel great about themselves.