I spent much of my career wondering if I am living up to my true potential. Over time I have learned that I am not alone. Ironically, this doubt of achieving our potential often manifests as fear of failure or imposter syndrome. In the coaching program I just completed, I was introduced to a well-known quote from Marianne Williamson.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.”
Yoga restrains the fluctuations of the mind. When I use the term ‘yoga’ many people think about stretching into yoga poses, burning incense or chanting mantras. Yoga is actually a philosophy and way of being that helps you get in touch with your true potential. At its root, Patanjali defines yoga as restraining the fluctuations of the mind (Yoga Sutras: I, 2).
Learning how to restrain our busy minds is the first step in achieving our potential. There is no right way to do this. The process is entirely individual. My practice is a blend of asana practice (physical postures), meditation and kundalini yoga. The combined effect of these practice helps me find stillness. When leaders find stillness it creates space for others to do the same.
Namaste: the light in me sees the light in you. The word namaste means many things, but the meaning that resonates with me is: “the light in me sees the light in you”. In the context of Williamson’s quote, light is akin to potential. If you are not sure what your true potential is, ask others. People are generally happy to acknowledge that for you. You can also reflect on the strengths you leverage when you show up the way you want to and perform at your best. It is from our capabilities and gifts that we realize our potential.
When we combine potential with opportunities to make an impact we find our dharma, or purpose. My dharma is to help leaders achieve their impossible by leveraging ancient wisdom in a modern leadership context. Your purpose gives you a north star for everything you do.
Compassion and disciplined practice lead to transformation. I started blogging because of the reaction I was getting from people who have known me for years. People often ask me how I have changed in this journey. I tell them that “I” haven’t changed at all, though I have stopped being things that I am not. There are two elements to my apparent transformation: cultivation of compassion and regular practice.
Cultivation of compassion. By cultivating self-compassion with yoga and metta meditation, we prepare ourselves to be of service to others. Would we befriend a person who constantly told us the negative things we tell ourselves? Not likely. While that voice is still there, cultivating compassion for myself and others makes it less distracting. It helps me focus.
Regular practice. Regular daily practice is important, regardless of your preferred method. It could be anything from meditating to gardening, as long as it helps you get in touch with your true self. That’s the key. The ability to do a headstand doesn’t make you more effective in the world. As my teacher Tiaga Prem Singh says, “our capacity for leadership has nothing to do with how fancy our yoga poses are”. Regular practice drives the teachings deep and helps me apply ancient wisdom in a modern leadership context.
Let your light shine.
When we begin to see our true potential manifest itself, it is both exciting and terrifying. As Williamson says:
“Your playing small does not serve the world. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
The light in me sees the light in you.
(originally posted at ChiefYogaOfficer.com)