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  • Writer's pictureKimberly LaBounty

When is the leadership position of spectator right?

Updated: Aug 1, 2018

Here in Illinois, the golf tournament season has begun for middle and high school kids. As we all know, golf is an individual sport – you can have all the coaching possible: swing coaches, fitness and nutrition coaches, course strategy coaches, TrackMan and other tools, but it’s the individual golfer who has to set the intention of the stroke and hit the ball. And then walk to where it lands and hit it again. As the kids get older, the pressure increases exponentially to perform in these tournaments. You literally never know who is watching, or keeping an eye on the stats. As a parent of someone who is passionate about the sport, there are admittedly times I struggle just as much getting through a round as my son does because all I can do is watch – from a distance. My communications must be confined to non-golf subjects like getting him lunch or offering to carry the jacket when the day starts to warm up. On good days he smiles, makes positive gestures, notices the beauty of the course, etc. But on the bad days – the frustrating days when the lie just can’t get any worse, it is admittedly tough to watch. And I know him well enough that I can tell you how well he is doing just by how he walks. As he gets older, he learns how to maintain his stature, and see it as “just one shot at a time.” And that helps the game overall.

I assimilate this experience with my work as a manager and leader. We can train our staff, coach them in a way that is consistent with the brand and organization’s mission, but we can’t have the conversations, send the emails, or make the decisions for them every day. At some point, we have to watch and let them learn and grow, and experience for themselves. That’s not to say, of course, that we don’t step in when we see disaster approaching. We need to keep our jobs too! But to train our next leaders, we guide them and watch – from a distance. I have watched as one of my staff was about to make a mistake, and I let it happen just so it could be a learning opportunity. When asked what to do in situations, we know as leaders we should first ask how they think it should be done. For me, it is important that my staff know the end goal – what do we want to learn or need to accomplish? I then let them figure out a way to get there. I try to make sure they have an opportunity to do something differently than the way I would do it. Practically speaking, if we both end up with the answer, their way of getting there might actually be better!

When we are on our mats, we not only see how our own body changes each day, we see how the individual bodies in our classes are different and how some poses just "work" better than others. In a class last week, my instructor told us the sequence she planned was outside her comfort zone because it was outside the usual Asanas. Her strengths are arm balances and this class was all about back bends. In my own teaching, I am focusing on the Chakras - taking a different one each week. This week is the Sacral Chakra and lots of hip openers. I had to tell my class yesterday that, while there are some poses I can't do (yet) because my body is not there, I certainly can't deny them the opportunity to practice those Asanas because their bodies are better at those poses than my body. Additionally, there might be more than one other way to get into a pose. I know of two ways to get into Eka Pada Koundinyanasana I so far, and some like one approach over the other. Maybe neither work for us (yet). The end pose is still the same.

In all three cases, we know the desired result. Whether it is to get the ball in the hole with as few strokes possible, land a new client or stick a pose, how we get there, and how successful we are at achieving that goal will depend on where we are at that time. In yoga we’re told, “we are where we need to be.” As difficult as that may be to reckon with sometimes (I know I’ve tried to fight it!), it’s true. Our Ego wants to tell us it’s not enough – that there should be more, it should be better. We should be better. Our Soul pleads that we see the joy in the moment. As a parent, our soul reminds us to enjoy the opportunity to watch our child grow and learn. As a boss, we appreciate having a place in an associate’s development to potentially become the next great leader. On our mat, we rejoice in the fact that yoga is a practice, and through it all we have a better understanding of who we are and how each breath makes us better inside. Let us embrace the feeling of gratitude for all we have in our lives –

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