Last year my husband and I each decided to pursue some long deferred dreams.
My path: the adventure of yoga certification.
His path: the founding of a mobile app company.
While the yoga path had inspiration built into it, the tech path required support from the outside. To boost his spirits I sought out success stories from young entrepreneurs blazing the tech trail. Can it be a coincidence the lessons apply so beautifully to teacher training?
1. Just Do It.
Trust your gut that this crazy thing you are called to do is the right path. Venture capitalist Mark Suster has taken Nike’s Just Do It campaign one step further with the acronym JFDI. Don’t whine, procrastinate, worry or create drama to derail yourself. Just Do It already.
2. Show Up.
Whether on the mat or in front of the computer, being present is more than half the battle. Research shows 80 percent of success is determined by showing up ready to do the work.
3. Fail. A lot.
Empower failure. Expect it even. Failure bears so many gifts we wouldn’t have access to otherwise: a developed character, an esprit d’corps, the skills needed to deal with future challenges. Nobody ever learned anything without failing first. Immerse yourself in a culture that gives feedback. Use this formula from Stanford’s Start Up School: Spot mistakes, Correct, Don’t repeat. The lessons learned become part of the next iteration
One of Steve Jobs’ favorite words. In the tech world “ship” means build minimum viable product, version 1.1, and ship it already! Get it out there. So you know only Sun A and Sun B? Then teach a Sun Salutation class. Knowing what isn’t working will show you what will.
5. Tell Everyone.
Stealth is not healthy. There is no scenario where becoming a yoga teacher needs to be a secret. Put it out there. Letting everyone know allows for two crucial elements, feedback and accountability. It’s hard to quit when even the grocery clerk is asking, “How’s teacher training going?”
6. Steal Stuff.
Every successful entrepreneur knows old Thomas Edison had it right; genius is one percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration. You don’t have to re-invent yoga. Let the order of the sequence be the one percent, and allow the other 99 percent of the practice to be a result of the breath and being totally present with what is.
7. Admit You Don’t Know.
Humility is a rare and beautiful thing. People always see through the BS of faking it. No need to be shy about a weakness. Successful starters recognize that the flip side of a weakness is a strength, often a unique and crazy awesome strength. If you don’t know, admit it. Then go find out. Or find someone who does. Someone has a gift of fixing the HVAC or balancing the books. And that’s okay. Pretending is the opposite of authenticity. We want authentic.
8. Don’t Assume.
As the Groupon team admits, when hundreds of thousands of users flock to a site the founders have to admit they have no clue who these people are. Continuing to build to Who You Think They Are is nowhere near as valuable as building What They Want. Ask them and they will tell you. You have no idea who will walk through the door. Or why. Planning an intense fast paced vinyasa flow to a hip playlist won’t serve when a 65-year-old veteran walks through the door with a new mat. Slow down and teach to what you see.
9. Try Easy.
The Instagram team admits to quickly learning that the simplest problems get difficult at scale. Being brave enough to sit with your class through a three minute malasana (garland squat) pose can be much more effective than a half-dozen frustrated attempts at pinchu mayurasana (feathered peacock arm balance). Easy works.
10. Embrace Uncertainty.
Yes, please plan ahead and remove the speed bumps and foreseeable detours. But there will always be a roadblock; some big beautiful obstacle whose very purpose is to have you dig down deep and unlock your potential. Ain’t life sweet?
11. Create A Pause.
Start-ups seek the pause, the micro second when a user does not click the back button, but rather lingers long enough to find out more. In teaching yoga we must create the pause—something to make the client return for more. Breath work, flow and time-holding the pose long enough for the muscles to be reminder later. And then there’s the ultimate pause—the gift of savasana (final rest). There’s a trend to skip this happy ending, but not giving it is like pouring your heart out into a word document and forgetting to hit save. Savasana is the wax seal on a beautiful letter written to self. Don’t skip it.
I mean, what else are you going to do? LOL please! There is always some life situation on the horizon, something somewhere ready to toss you off-balance. I know a teacher who insists when someone falls out of a pose we all say, with love, Hahaha. Then get back up with a smile and try again. As the Buddha promised, pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
Linda Fenelon is a writer, mama, yoga lover and a proud member of the T.I.T.S teacher-in-training program at Baptiste inspired studio Epic Yoga in Nashville, Tennessee.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel
Assist Ed: Madison Canary
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