It was a downward dog challenge.
Five minutes. See how long you can last.
This was after 45 minutes of intense, hot, sweaty yoga. My arms were shaking. My legs were aching.
I was ready to go home, have a shower, and get started on the rest of my night.
And here I was, stuck in a downward dog challenge.
One minute down. The instructor was encouraging me (which is why I love yoga).
“You’re doing great.”
Two minutes in.
“Do your best.”
Halfway there. Two and a half minutes to go.
“Take a break when you need it. Feel free to take child’s pose and come back when you are ready.”
At three minutes, the message changed.
“I know you’re tired. You’re done. You think you can’t do it. This is the moment you want to get out of the pose. But this is when the yoga begins. Pushing through this moment and showing your strength IS yoga.”
I almost fell over from this powerful statement.
Suddenly, I understood. That moment when you want to get out of the pose is when yoga begins. Yoga is:
· Staying when what you really want to do is run
· Pushing through the last ounce of strength you have, only to discover there’s even more within you than you thought you had
· Being present when all you want to do is distract yourself with excuses of why you need to leave
· Continuing to breathe when you would love to scream and tell the instructor what you REALLY think of her class
The same week I (barely) survived the 5 minute downward dog challenge, my leadership program team fell apart. I was frustrated, irritated, and considered quitting the program.
But then, I found myself reflecting on my yoga insight – that the moment when you want to escape is when yoga begins. And I realized it applies to many facets of life.
I realized that, like yoga, the moment I want to give up, is the moment true leadership begins. So I wiped the tears, calmed the anger, and gave my leadership team another chance.
I know that staying, pushing through, being present, and breathing (like I did in yoga), helped shape me as a leader. It strengthened the relationships I had with those on my team. It taught me that I’m stronger than I could imagine.
· I forgave when I didn’t think it was possible
· I listened to understand, before I worried about being understood
· I apologized for my mistakes
· I went beyond what I thought was possible and with my team, created an incredible presentation and research project to serve the community for years to come
Whether you are a leading a team, a company, a family, a non-profit organization, a volunteer committee or your own life (yes, this includes you!), there always comes a moment when you are ready to give up.
You’ve tried everything.
That person is unreasonable. Impossible.
It’s not worth it.
Except it IS worth it. It’s not easy. Believe me when I say I have wanted to walk away from sticky, messy, uncomfortable situations . But this is when leadership activates. This is your chance to magnify who you are and what you are capable of.
Pushing yourself through challenge is where the expansion of self happens.
It’s the painful, sweaty, shaky moments where your true strength, courage and grit comes out.
On and off the yoga mat.
If there’s a tough situation in your life right now, this is for you.
You are strong. You are smart. You are whole. You are creative.
That moment when you want to quit is when leadership begins.
That is the instant that you break free of your comfort zone.
This is the moment when you become who you are meant to be.
- Lisa Michaud
PS. At 3 ½ minutes I did fall over. So of course, I still have “5 minute downward dog” on my list of life goals.
What’s on your list of life goals? I love hearing about what you want to do in your wild and wonderful life! Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and share with me some of your goals and dreams. I’ll keep it in my mind as I create content and programs to help you achieve them!