Recently I was talking to a young woman who had just started teaching yoga and has been meeting at different places to audition at different yoga places. She was telling me about her experience and I remember one of mine being exactly the same way almost 6 years ago. She explained that after her audition the manager spent over an hour breaking down and judging her in such detail; stated that in the end that if she wanted to work there she would have too mirror the manager in style, voice and method. This young lady left that audition questioning herself and I asked her to stop, listen and trust herself. There isn’t anything wrong with learning and taking in new things but there comes a time you have to take that , understand the root of the message, maybe motive and decide if it is right for you. I could see her face relax and she knew the answer from within. That is what happens when I pause and trust a deeper place from within that lets my authentic voice and expression come out. It is from a good and honest place for me and I’m so glad I know how too tap into it.
This reminded me of a Jivamukti Yoga workshop I attended years ago in DC. Tons of Yogi’s busy Flowing with Sun Salutations as each position was called out. One of the founders stopped us, Sharon, and suggested we move with our breath instead. Suggesting that if we did this instead of all moving together, as it was called out, we would look less like soldiers. Making each of us listen to our uniqueness from within. Finish the breath and then move. The breath can’t be faked – it is nature at work. No need to be the same because we aren’t. This way of thinking helped me refine and trust myself from then on – way beyond just yoga.
Of course I know that my personality is drawn to order and discipline. I’ve had many people in my life really disturbed by my desire to be organized and I know I’m a handful; I don’t deny it. I like to make the bed before I go on vacation. I like to keep my desk and email organized each day. I like knowing the kitchen is clean before I go to bed. I’m not suggesting I’m perfect – I let things slip of course – I’m human. Keeping things in balance though – I also can quickly identify when that need to be that way is harmful, stop and let it be. Those I work with know that I’m this way and sometimes like to be messy just to watch me twitch.
Even today I continue to see those in management positions think that if they make strict detailed standards they can feel in control. They sit in endless meetings talking about what to do, say or not do over and over. They often ask “How” a lot. “How did you do that” “How were you successful” – tell us so we can be just that way as well. All so afraid. Life is up and down – the “How” isn’t the right question – some could do the same and not have the same result. Instead the best managers have known just when to trust; first in themselves and then in those they have delegated. It is a fine balance between being the leader or a dictator.
At a very early age I wanted to be an accountant. I liked it for its logic and it has a way of pleasing the part of me that likes order. I did well with employers that didn’t come back with answers like “that is just the way we do it” or “the way it has always been done”. I admit I like to rock the boat and ask “Why” a lot. Sometimes I’m asking questions as my way to solve or think things out and I see now that it bothers people. They feel as if I’m challenging them when that is my way of processing or thinking – (so now I just tell them that straight out.)
One time I remember as a CPA, with over 10 years of experience, I was interviewing for a job. The interviewer had me there for over 3 hours and then proceeded to give me written tests – accounting, spelling, basic math. I did a few but then they started to hand me more math tests that had fractions and it seemed like it wouldn’t come to a close. I declined to go further as the interview was already longer than I was told to expect. As it turned out they were smart enough not to put all their choices into the test – and I got the job. Today as a recruiter for employment I still don’t understand the choices made by managers; especially on who receives tests and why. Do we really think personality can be completely measured in a personality test? Why hand a CPA a math test, for example. CPA license means the person passed the hardest math test ever! I think employers feel they are being fair by applying one set of rules for everyone. However a great quote I read a long time ago said “There is nothing so un-equal as the equal treatment of others” I can’t help but agree.
History teaches us this too. Anytime we have used the word “equal” to mean fair, nature comes back and slaps us in the face. I know this isn’t profound thinking but I like to remember that it isn’t just the big moments in history that we can experience this. We can grow so attached to roles or titles; in society, religion, politics and even yoga. We somehow feel it has defined us but we find ourselves stuck. In Sanskrit it is called Kleshas; states of mind such as anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire, depression that will keep us right there. These will hold us back unless we can be mindful of that moment of being overwhelmed. Only then can we find truth. The truth is we are more than we often give ourselves credit for but instead respond to protect change from ever happening.
The other day Jason Werth of the Nationals was interviewed and asked what it was about their manager that he liked. He said, without hesitation, that his manager stays out of their way and lets them get their jobs done. I smiled so hard and thought exactly! Steve Jobs was known for saying things like hire great people even before the work is there for them. He knew it would come if he didn’t try to control it. So great managers in history have understood that there is a balance to things and you don’t need to micro-manage good people to mirror what you want them to be.
Of course I’ve learned so much from both the good and bad managers; learning so much of what doesn’t work sometimes is the best teacher. This has made me appreciate my amazing mentors, managers and teachers even more. I admire their love, patience, compassion and ability to let me be who I am- imperfections and all.