Right thought | wrong speech

We all do it. We all excuse it.
When is gossip right speech and when is it just wrong?

In many teacher trainings, discussions about the Yamas and Niyamas are often condensed into easily digestible concepts.

Satya = truthfulness, right speech, non-gossip…sorta. It’s much more complicated than that but it’s a good start.

Every workplace, including yoga studios and fitness clubs, has a policy against malicious gossip. If you’ve ever needed to go to human resources to address it, you know that the line between malicious and unintended is broad and mobile.

When is gossip a positive? Here are three areas to consider:

Are you sharing your personal experience or speculating about others?  Malcolm Gladwell talks a little about the other minds problems in his book, What the Dog Saw. That’s the phrase psychologists use to describe our innate curiosity about the interior lives of others. How often do we ask, what do you think about this? Tell me more about that? It’s fact vs fiction.

Are you exploring bigger concepts or just looking for angry allies? Discussions that are often, and sometimes rightly, avoided at work can be had with close work-friends with respect and integrity. Talking about cultural antagonisms, social movements or even the weather can be an honest exchange for deeper understanding. But, phrases like “don’t you agree that…” are a form of peer pressure that are often used to gather support an unstated agenda.

Humour vs snark. Many people love a catty sense of humour. It takes time to get to that level with work-friends. Friendly jabs at those who are present can be fun. A friendly jab at someone not present who has already heard it directly on other occasions can be on the line. A ‘friendly’ jab at someone called out or named, who is not present and has no idea tends to go over the line.

We all do it. We all excuse it. When is it right speech and when is it just wrong?


Check out this interesting article on how to “Gossip Like a Leader”

LeadeshipFreak

 

I quit! And, you’re fired!

Have you ever left a studio?

Of course, schedules change or you need more time for yourself.

But, have you ever quit?

Sometimes we forget to look at the big picture when where excited about teaching each class.

I once taught at a local Ashtanga shala near my home. It was just a 15 walk away. How wonderful! But, the dynamics of the city changed. And, as the studio struggled to maintain students. I saw my paychecks shrink. Being paid per head is great when the room is full.  But, it was just a short walk down the street. The class time was convenient. I love teaching. What’s the problem?

I did the math.  The numbers revealed the ugly truth. The pay no longer covered the time and energy I spent getting there. I was clearing less than minimum wage, far less than the normal rate for a senior teacher. So, I left.

It’s not always about money though. I taught at another studio that paid a fair flat rate. I was really excited to be a part of the community. This studio was renown throughout the area, the world, and had a legacy. But the community wasn’t welcoming. The addition of a “power yoga” class was sneered at by existing teachers. Yes, air quotes were often used and not so subtle references to “trendy yoga” and “ridiculous poses”.  What I taught was different and many teachers in the space weren’t capable of the vigorous asana. So, they belittled what they were afraid of. It was pretty toxic. So, I left.


“We often say ‘yes’ with regrets.

But sometimes, we have to say no.

Sometimes, we have to walk away. “

john-robert-marasigan-238147

Have you ever fired a student?

I know, I know…it sounds like self-sabotage.  It’s really self-preservation.

I volunteered at the International Film Festival for years. There were several dedicated volunteers who had been with the festival for decades. When I was invited to join the seasonal staff, I used them as a valuable resource for best practices. Things would go well if things went their way. Too often, new volunteers found themselves iced out and discouraged from coming back.

One year, the operations director uninvited dozens of long time volunteers from the festival. It was scandalous. They were fired. And, we were better for it. The general atmosphere was more welcoming and friendly to everyone. A heavy weight was lifted from everyone’s shoulders.


Sometimes, students need to leave your class for their own benefit or for the benefit of your teaching. The student who stays in the beginner class because it’s safe or easy, needs to move on. The regular student who dominates your time and energy before, during and after class is interfering with your serving the other students.

We often say “yes” with regrets. But sometimes, we have to say no. Sometimes, we have to walk away.


Check out this interesting article from James Altucher about the realities of selling oneself…pay close attention to points B and I.

JAltucher-deathofasalesman1

 

 

 

Nice Niche :: Big Fish

In Teacher Training there’s typically a moment when you talk about the business of yoga and they will tell you to find your niche.

In every TT, half the class wants to:

  • teach beginners
  • teach seniors
  • teach children
  • teach “under-served” populations (aka poor, and/or non-white students)
  • teach outdoors
  • teach athletes (insert discipline here)

That’s an admirable but VERY common list.

So, what’s a niche?  The dictionary says…

  1. suitable place for somebody: a position or activity that particularly suits somebody’s talents and personality or that somebody can make his or her own
  2. specialized market: an area of the market specializing in one type of product or service

We focus on the second definition without looking at the first.  Targeting a specific, specialized market can lead to monetary success if that’s your talent.  But, how often to we move towards a career we wish for without being realistic about what we’re good at or suited for?

I saw a story about Big Fish Expeditions on grindtv.com.  Personally, I love sharks.  I think they’re amazing, beautiful, misunderstood, mistreated and awesome (kinda like me).  I hope to be a shark in my next life…but that’s another story.

There are thousands of tour leaders around the world who will show you the beauty of the oceans but Andy Murch and his group found a real niche.

Andy is a “shark fanatic”.  He is the creator behind The Elasmodiver Shark and Ray Field Guide.  He is a driving force behind the Predators in Peril Project.  He’s a professional diver and talented photographer.

Big Fish Expeditions isn’t the only group that offers the opportunity to dive with sharks but they are the most passionate.  Check out their site for Andy’s inspiring photos.

passion + skill = NICHE

flickr-Kevin Bryant
Kevin Bryant (Flickr)

As a yoga teacher, you don’t need to swim with sharks to have a niche. Or, maybe you do-metaphorically.

Be honest about what you’re good at, what experience and talent you have and how to turn that into specialized product for your students.  Wishing you could be someone you’re not doesn’t serve your students or your career.