We are coming to the end of the year which inspired me to write about the circularity of time and processes. Do you feel the same as me about where this year went? Or maybe it is just a feeling and all the years go by at the same pace. Nevertheless, before the festive season starts it is a great time to take a moment and reflect on the past year. The progress we made, the goals we reached and the lessons we learned. Without making a separation between my personal and professional achievements this year, I feel like combining the two. Namely, my two passions sustainable business and yoga practice and reflect through why sustainable business is similar to yoga practice.
The first thing that came into my mind was that there is one thing over others that has impacted my year more than anything else. And that one thing is yoga. As simple as that, yoga brought me here.
I now realise how important part yoga practice is playing in my sustainability journey. Yoga is purposeful, energizing and focused on breathing and on the intention you set at the beginning of the practice. The effect that moving the body does to the mind and vice versa. The progress in one asana (position) leads to discovering progress in other asanas. Yoga has those ever evolving edges or learnings, if you like to call them that. They are just there for me to discover. Every practice starts with intention setting and ends with savasana (dead man pose). Everything is in circular movement and interconnected. So, how is all this connected with sustainability?
Five reasons why sustainable business is similar to yoga practice
1. Goal setting vs intention setting
For managing a sustainable business you need clear goals and a roadmap how to get there. Although setting the goals is the most effortless part. The tricky part is choosing the right actions and KPIs that will get you to the goal. The more concrete and measurable the actions are, the more smooth it is to start drawing your sustainability journey. Action starts right away, not right before your set target dates. It’s better to take small steps than no steps. Take actions that are your size and doable for you. Believe in them. Like in your first yoga class you don’t expect yourself to make a peak pose, why should you expect your business to achieve the net zero goal on day one?
Focusing on your own yoga practice helps you to focus on your set intentions. Be conscious that you create your own progress. I started yoga in 2019, that is my baseline. Last Saturday I did my first head stand. That was an amazing feeling! At the beginning of the practice I set myself an intention that I will do my best in this class. And I did it, my best and more.
2. Consistent actions
Nothing that is done once or twice has a long lasting impact. The impact is short term unless you put in the hours, dedication and your heart. Only doing something consistently brings results. Exactly like in yoga. Or in managing sustainability in a company. You need to return to your mat again and again and again.
In yoga, every individual does their own practice. It is important to focus on what you are doing without glancing at what your neighbors are doing on their mats. It would only put you off balance while balancing in your tree pose. Everyone who has ever done yoga knows that where you place your gaze makes all the difference. “Keep your eyes on the ball”, they say. Works in yoga and in sustainable business journeys alike. Staying focused on the goal by making progress though consistent actions play a crucial role in success stories. High performers never lose their sight of the ball, their goal, their set intention. They always look forward! Remember this the next time in your yoga class when you go to the dancer’s pose and you try to find a focus point in front of you on the ground in order for you to stay balanced.
3. Positive impact of your actions
What is the positive impact your business creates through its sustainability actions? It can be that you reduce waste streams because you do something more sustainably. It can also be that you attract and retain more talent because your business creates purpose through its sustainable practices. Or it can be that you find new markets to sell your products in because you make the choice to reduce your environmental impact. Whatever the positive impact of your business is, make it clear to you and write it down. We cannot see it if we look at our feet. Because then we fall like in yoga. Listen to your surroundings, the environment where you operate, what are its needs, there we can find the positive impact you want to create.
Same applies to yoga. Although identifying its positive impact might come to you more easily. Yoga as an ancient practice can be viewed as a healthy way of life blending physical and spiritual disciplines by harmonizing the mind, body and spirit. The practice indeed aims at grounding, connecting with ourselves as well as with nature. There is a reason why yoga is done barefoot. It helps to build that connection between the heart and the ground. Interesting fact, the feet have a direct connection with the brain having 200 000 nerve endings. Yoga strengthens both physical and mental well-being and the impact lasts long.
4. Your Why
Consistent action, learning by doing and aiming for continuous improvement let us to advance sustainably both personally and professionally. Knowing “the why” is important as it keeps us accountable and motivated to reach the goal. Whatever your set goal is, you are there because you want to progress. To learn new asanas, to learn more efficient ways to reduce carbon emissions, to maintain what you have already learnt. Your fellow yogis are like the stakeholders of your company. You make yourself accountable by always showing up and doing your best!
5. Report on your performance
Getting back to the beginning of this blog post and my intention to reflect on the past year. Report on your sustainability performance, what was your progress in the past year and visualise it. Regular performance measurement is key for success. Stop and show your actual progress with data. This is why you must choose measurable actions. Present the real sustainability performance without cherry-picking flattering results.
Can you now see why sustainable business is similar to yoga practice?
Take a big breath and screen through your past year. Let your mind flow. Discover the ups and downs. Remember that where you place your gaze is the game changer. In the past year I have experienced big improvement in my yoga practice. In addition to learning new asanas, I noticed that I am capable of tuning in quicker and finding that calm inside for a longer period of time. Yoga has strengthen my resiliency to deal with uncertainty.
Great things happened also professionally, and I learned valuable lessons that I will take with me to the new year. The progress in one asana leads to discovering progress in other asanas and thus creates a circular model. Same goes with a business sustainability plan. Action leads to impact that leads to more actions. Everything come down to circularity.
In the world facing a crisis after a crisis, I don’t wonder why so many people are looking for more purpose in their work. Why so many people turn to inner work? This world welcomes more consciousness, purpose and presence. In French, “presence” means both a present and the present moment. The present moment is truly a gift to be thankful for. We can take action only in the present moment, not yesterday, not tomorrow. The present moment is a gift to make a change.
With these words and reflections I am ready to let 2022 go.
I welcome 2023 with a rested body, open heart and adventurous mind! Happy holidays and prosperous New Year to you!
Be Smart. Be Present. Live Sustainably.
PS. We are all energy afterall