Business Insights (and terrible puns) from Bikram Yoga: Learn to Stretch Yourself

Taking care of myself is a passion of mine. While my schedule at PGi keeps me busy, I try to find the time to exercise as often as I can. I’m big into running and try to get a few miles in every day if possible. I try to eat as healthy as I can and I’m always looking for new fitness challenges.

Through a friend, I recently discovered Bikram Yoga, a style of yoga performed in a room heated to 105° with 40% humidity. You may have noticed the studios with their completely fogged-up windows while out and about. It is an incredibly grueling, ninety minute ordeal composed of 26 separate poses. While some find the practice controversial, I’ve found it to be one of the most physically challenging classes I’ve ever taken.

In my role here at PGi, I’m very rarely “off;” even while in a tough hot yoga class, my mind inevitably draws insights and connections between the lessons I’ve learned throughout my career and how the challenge of Bikram mirrors those lessons. I thought I’d share a few of those insights today:

Stretch Your Limits

It’s important to push yourself, in life and in your career, if you’re ever going to reach your true potential. I consider myself to be in pretty good shape, but that first Bikram class really tested my fitness and my endurance.

As our CEO Boland Jones put it, “You cannot be afraid to fail, or your company will stagnate.” People who live entirely within their limits aren’t innovating. I constantly challenge my team to try new things, scary things, with the freedom to fail and move on. Challenging my limits is the only way I know how to stay engaged and excited about my career.

Find Peace in the Struggle

Like so many things in our lives, my experience in yoga is as much about the journey as the destination. When you’re sweating and struggling through something, it’s hard not to focus on the end goal; surviving the ninety minutes. But afterwards, reflecting on the class, it’s really about working through the moment, from pose to pose, and finding strength and peace in the journey.

At work, our lives revolve around end goals—deadlines, meetings and promotions. It’s an endless string of “What comes next?” But it’s in the day-to-day victories and collaborative opportunities that really make the difference and make a job worth doing. Don’t get so caught up in the next milestone that you forget to enjoy the journey, even if it’s sometimes a struggle.

Get More Flexible

At the start of our careers as eager newcomers, we’re pleasers; we never miss an opportunity to take on a new assignment, even if it’s outside of our responsibilities. As we progress in our careers, we naturally hone in on more targeted roles, but it’s important to never lose that flexibility.

Disruptive changes like evolving technology or new business models force us out of our comfort zones and into new territory. Those who stay flexible over time and can adapt to the speed and dynamic nature of today’s business climate are the ones who will innovative and succeed.

What business insights have you gained from your hobbies or passions? I want to hear from you. Connect with me on Twitter and continue the conversation.

About Sean O'Brien

Sean O’Brien is PGi’s Chief Administrative Officer. He oversees the company’s Legal, HR and Program Management organizations and manages Corporate Development, M&A and Acquisition Integration. In addition, Mr. O’Brien leads Corporate Strategy, Executive Communications and Global Facilities Management.

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