I still remember the first time I tried yoga. It was the dead of winter in New York City and, as I walked into the dimly lit yoga studio, I felt a little out of place. Casually looking around the room, I watched an array of bearded, beaded yogis giving each other greetings and salutations I did not comprehend. I must have missed the memo because I was the only person not dressed head to toe in white. My five o'clock shadow and Nike sneakers stood out amidst the draping white linen and prayer beads. Some of them even wore turbans. "Where do you even buy something like that?" I asked myself, making a mental note to check Amazon later. It was my first yoga class and I didn't know what to expect. I was a little uncomfortable, but the steady rhythm from the brass gong in the corner kept me relaxed, even uplifted. "Here goes nothing," I thought.
Midway through the session, everything clicked. I could feel my muscles stretching, expanding, and releasing pent-up toxins as I down-dogged only a little behind the rhythm of the group. I felt connected with my body and with myself.
Afterwards, I was tired. My muscles had left their comfort zone and stretched into uncharted territories. It felt fulfilling, but it was not comfortable. This is expected. Expanding yourself, whether in life or in yoga class, is never comfortable. But this soreness ultimately feels great because it is life affirming. It is an indication of personal growth.
I try to approach my career like yoga. I stretch and bend myself to test the limits of my ability. When I get too comfortable, I stretch myself further, learning new mental postures that expand myself beyond my comfort zone. Stretching ourselves beyond what we know is how we grow. Challenging ourselves and embracing uncertainty is how we remain fresh, alive, young and inspired.
We can only grow (as people and professionals) by challenging our personal status quo. When we stopping stretching we become stiff, immobile and stuck. Toxins build up and energy stops flowing. We even start to look downtrodden in our faces and body language. Why is that? Because everything in life is connected, and how we approach one thing affects everything else, including our appearance, our happiness and financial abundance. How we do one thing is how we do everything.
Whenever I have a meeting in my office, I often remember my first yoga class. I ask myself, "How can I stretch my talents further? What new posture can I try on this project?" While it might be easier to simple go through the motions and approach each day with the same proven methods, doing so does not allow us to grow. We make progress by testing the limits and stretching beyond our comfort zone. You may get a little sore, but your body (and your career) will thank you.
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