Last week I had an experience on the yoga mat that got me thinking a lot about leadership. It has to do with the notion of going to your “edge” and then going beyond it. “Edge” is the metaphor for the beliefs and thoughts we have about what is possible. What’s cool about the idea of edge is that during a yoga practice you can feel it.
You come to that part where you’re putting your body into a pose where it doesn’t effortlessly cooperate. Ouch! (You begin to wonder why you’re doing this at 6 a.m. during a week off from work). The thoughts and body sensations start to grow. (Wish I could go back to sleep, this is difficult, it hurts, etc.). Then I remembered the magic potion; close your eyes and breathe…
As soon as I began to breathe deeply and powerfully, the edge that my mind had constructed began to disappear! The sensations got stronger and continued to attract my thoughts. More breath, and the edge was now completely gone and my body was going in places it had never gone before. I enjoyed the immersion in allowing myself to experience my body without that hard edge. I opened my eyes, looked down, and saw that my head was resting near my bent left knee, something I had never before done while sitting up.
The body will allow what the mind will not….
When I commit to doing yoga from my “mind,” I experience more of what my mind creates (conflict and separation). When I practice yoga attending to the sensations and allowing the thoughts to disperse, my body stretches beyond its previous limitations.
Now back to leadership.
How often have you been leading from the edge?
Do you see limitations that aren’t really there?
How would your others in your world respond to you if you were first connected to who you really are, that part of you that operates when you are in the “flow” vs. when you are in the “know?”
A recent example of how this worked for a client is when Mike had difficulty connecting his “thinking” to his “feelings,” he used a specific breath practice. This allowed him to experience the multitude of sensations in his body that could guide and direct him to what really mattered. He was able to go beyond the “edge”’ which was limited by his usual thinking about the problem, into the domain of clarity and precision about what was important.
Yoga is an effective way of learning how to go to the edge and extend beyond it.
If yoga isn’t your thing, simply find a way to do an activity you enjoy and see what happens when you can’t do something easily. Is your first response a reaction? Do you breathe and get curious about your edge?
We invite you to post your comments here so Step Up Leaders can learn about leadership beyond the edge.