How do you use your wellness practices to help your professional success?
This was one of the topics on the docket last week during a webinar on improving wellness in 2019, which I co-led with my colleague and wine industry veteran Rebecca Hopkins for a large organization called Women of the Vine and Spirits.
We were well-positioned to lead this webinar: Hopkins founded a community called A Balanced Glass last year, which addresses daily challenges to wellness while working in the beverage alcohol space, when it's essentially "our job to drink." I contribute content to the platform every other week, based on my own over 20 years of experience in yoga and meditation practice.
From the start, and because of the nature of the industry, the content has needed to integrate the realities of a physically and psychologically demanding workplace with healthy, mindful "countermeasures." The idea is to swing the pendulum in the other direction, to achieve some balance not only in the work-life dynamic but also in the realm of calm and chaos that characterizes so much of the hospitality industry.
Here are five things--countermeasures, really--that I've learned from wellness practices that have also helped in advancing my professional success as well.
1. Tune in. Pause. Then act.
Interviewing people, and deeply tuning in to what they're saying, is a cornerstone of my research as a journalist and, for my business, responsiveness to client feedback. Mindfulness enhances the ability to be present to the conversation and cues at hand. When you aren't already thinking about what you want to say in response, when you listen rather than anticipate, then you become very efficient at gleaning what you need to know. Your center is more quiet and stable, primed to observe rather than react. From there, especially in interviews, the article practically writes itself.
2. Transform all feedback into fuel.
Everything that happens -- positive, negative or indifferent -- is a source of fuel for the next step. When we observe and pause (as in the point above), we're adding an element of objectivity to the dynamic. It's like taking a step back to see something, even a problematic thing, from as many angles as possible.
This isn't being aloof. This is taking a moment to let the thing be what it really is. Then we are in the best position to respond, calmly and strategically. Most importantly in times of negative feedback, focus on metabolizing the information from a place of detachment: take it in, extract what's useful, and eliminate the rest. That's the fuel that powers the next step. Let go of everything else, then move on.
3. Support a healthy body for a healthy mind, and vice versa.
The irony of exercise applies to yoga too: the more energy we exert, the more energy we generate in reserve. This is especially true for me in terms of high-intensity, high-heat vinyasa flow classes, particularly as I get older and maintaining strength, flexibility and balance becomes more important. I walk away from class with more energy and, better still, more clarity of thought around the challenges of the day. That clarity around how to handle challenges is why taking the time to exercise actually saves time in an otherwise very full schedule.
4. Meditate for clarity and compassion.
The flip side of active yoga is seated meditation, where some of my best business ideas have originated. The name of my book, Hungry for Wine? Came to me during meditation. The name of my business, Enolytics? Ditto. But it isn't about learning to meditate with the intention of having big ideas; it's about learning to meditate to calm and clear your mind. Big ideas may (or may not) break through, but what will happen is a process of self-inquiry and self-knowledge, which leads to more awareness and clarity, which leads to better relationships and more compassionate interactions outside yourself.
5. Study the body's daily rhythms.
Ayurveda is the sister science of yoga, and an ancient practice of medicine that assumes the body's abundant health and inner wisdom. What does this mean, practically for today's everyday life? For me it's translated to an awareness of daily rhythms, such as the best and most efficient time of day for me to write, to schedule meetings, to exercise and to run errands. I've also learned which foods and drinks are best suited to my particular body's metabolism, to maintain optimal health. It's about being efficient and productive -- and, dare I say, happy -- and also regulating my day accordingly.