"Yoga is a dance between control and surrender – between pushing and letting go – and when to push and when to let go becomes part of the creative process, part of the open-ended exploration of your being." Joel Kramer (author of the passionate mind: a manual for living creatively with one's self)
Few weeks ago, I had a short chat with a friend from Singapore. He reminded me this important lesson; That and the tough days of dealing with the Coronavirus, have urged me to write this blog in relation to life and business.
My Yoga teacher always says that surrendering is the most difficult pose in Yoga.
There are two poses that I do on regular basis.
The first pose is Vajrasana, a kneeling pose. For this pose, start by kneeling on the floor (you can use a yoga mat for comfort) and then sit back on your legs to take the weight off your knees.
Pull your knees and ankles together and point your feet in line with your legs. The bottoms of your feet should face upward with your big toes touching. Exhale as you sit back on your legs. Your buttocks will rest on your heels and your thighs will rest on your calves. Put your hands on your thighs and adjust your pelvis slightly backward and forward until you’re comfortable. Now, breathe in and out slowly as you position yourself to sit up straight by straightening your spine. This pose really hurts and the first inclination is to get up, but my Yoga teacher says: "surrender to the situation - Let it hurt for a while, this is when real work is happening."
The second pose, that I work on, is Shavasana, a meditative posture in which one lies on one's back just lying down quietly and relaxed, calm, letting go of any thoughts, just breathing and center the awareness. That is typically considered the final resting pose in yoga, it is known as a great way to calm the mind, reduce stress and fatigue and more.
This pose is more difficult than it appears at first glance. It’s a difficult pose because thoughts are entering our reality. Finding stillness requires that we fully surrender into that pose..
Resting your right foot against the left thigh to maintain balance.
A week after I first heard about this concept, my wife and I went to a coffee shop, for coffee and a french toast. Usually, I like quick service. That morning the service was very slow, and I started getting impatient. Instead of letting impatience crawl in, I practiced what I learned - just surrender to waiting, no pressure, not calling the waiter and complaining, just surrender. It felt great.
Eckhart Tolle, in his book ‘The Power of Now’ mentions that, Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life. To surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation.
In fact, it is not the overall situation that you need to accept when you surrender, but just the tiny segment called the "Now".
Many business owners worry, about the consequences of this tough time instead of planning and taking action. In order to grow, you first need to surrender to the current situation, embrace that it can’t be changed and embrace the now. After that you can find the mental space to be proactive and find ways to grow and learn from this situation.
In the year 2000, I just became CEO of my company when the dot com bubble burst. Most of the phone calls I got from my customers was to lower our prices. During that time, prices decreased a lot, around 30% percent overall. We had a management meeting and deiced to lower salaries slightly, around 5% percent. It was still not enough. I remember clearly how I surrender to the situation, imagine myself as a Monopoly player that just got the "Go to jail " card and I realized it was all momentary. In the two years that followed the dot com bust, we managed to hire a lot of good people who were suddenly out of a job and were willing to work for a lower salary. During that time, we grew our company from twenty to sixty consultants.
However, surrender doesn't mean sitting down waiting and doing nothing. As Eckhart Tolle says, it is about accepting the Now and acting from acceptance
"Stop trying to calm the storm. Calm yourself, the storm will pass".
Here are few tips business owners can act now:
1. Have a positive attitude – Reading and seeing the news can be very discouraging. Try to limit the number of times you let news affect you. Build a positive mindset and be proactive making steps to take care of your business. Meditation, Yoga, relaxation and a good night sleep, all are helpful now in this stressed time.
2. Talk to your customers – I have received many emails from hotels, banks, air lines, and others addressing the Coronavirus issue. You, as an owner should do the same. Reassure your customers. Show you care, tell them what measurement you are taking and help them stay in touch with you.
3. Calm your employees – Your employees are scared too; they are afraid to lose their job and they are uncertain about the future of their company. Address them, be honest with them and tell them what you are doing to address the current situation. Let them ask questions and suggest ideas.
4. Increase lead generation efforts – This is always a great tip, but right now even more so. Your target market awaits you. They are just as confused with the situation, yet they may still need your products or services. Reach out to them and extend an offer.
5. Look at your expenses – It is always advised to keep an eye on your expenses. However, today it is time to have an even closer look. Are there some operational expenses you can cut? Can you cut some nice-to-have expenses? However, don't cut expenses that contribute to the growth of your business. Be prepared for the growth that comes after every crisis.
6. Have a cushion – Usually businesses need a financial cushion. That is putting, at least, three months of expenses out of reach. This is the time that you may want to reach for that cushion, if you haven’t so far. They say cash is king for a reason. Remember to work on building a new cushion when situation allows.
7. Innovate – It may be a good time for strategy and innovation: new products or services, new ways to give your customers more value. In these rough times, you may want to connect it to the situation and offer ways for your customers to deal with the situation with more ease. Can your product or service be used now more than before? Many people are working from home. What can you offer to make their life easier? The world may be changing, and you need some new ideas for your business. Embrace the trend, as it may stay longer even after this crisis gets resolved.
8. Invest in your vision – it is a great time to think about your long-term vision. What changes will you make because of the current situation. What is the future look like for your company?
Surrendering doesn't mean being weak, it means accepting what is. There are things you can't change. Instead of fighting it, surrender and be proactive.
I just happened to read Iger Robert autobiography and the following seemed to resonate with our current situation. These lines were written in the days following September 11:
"Optimism sets a different machine in motion. Especially in difficult moments, the people you lead need to feel confident in your ability to focus on what matters, and not to operate from a place of defensiveness and self-preservation. This isn’t about saying things are good when they’re not, and it’s not about conveying some innate faith that “things will work out.” It’s about believing you and the people around you can steer toward the best outcome, and not communicating the feeling that all is lost if things don’t break your way. The tone you set as a leader has an enormous effect on the people around you. No one wants to follow a pessimist." Iger Robert (The Ride of a Lifetime [p. 86] )