Being a yoga teacher or wellness entrepreneur isn’t just about working with clients or students. It’s also about becoming a leader in your field and a successful entrepreneur, so you can reach as many people as possible with your work.
What you may not realize is that you are already uniquely positioned to succeed as a leader.
Let’s talk a little bit about the definition of leadership, and why yoga teachers and wellness entrepreneurs have a distinct advantage in their journey to becoming great leaders.
My favorite definition of leadership comes from American essayist and novelist David Foster Wallace. He says:
“A real leader is somebody who can help us overcome the limitations of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better things than we can get ourselves to do on our own.”
Here’s the amazing thing: That is essentially the definition of yoga, too! The practices of yoga and meditation stretch us to be bigger and better than we were before, and perhaps better than we ever thought possible.
The entire practice of yoga is a science. It’s a technology built to help us stretch our capacity as human beings. As a yoga teacher or wellness practitioner, you’re already helping your clients and students do better things. Leadership is built into the work you do on your own yoga mat, and in your classroom or treatment room.
As soon as you take the seat of a teacher, you’re stepped up into a leadership role. You are a teacher and an entrepreneur. Whether you think of yourself as a CEO or not, you are running a company. Your job is to build your leadership skills so you can run a profitable business that will reach more people and have a greater impact.
What is the number one thing that sets great leaders apart from other people in their field?
It is called emotional intelligence, and it’s the most common quality you’ll see across the entire spectrum of great leaders in all fields – not just in wellness businesses.
Psychologist and author Daniel Goldman popularized the term “emotional intelligence” in 1995 in his book of the same name.
Emotional intelligence (also known EQ or EI) is the ability to understand, use, and manage emotions in positive ways. Strong EQ skills help us connect with our feelings so we can communicate effectively, overcome life challenges, and empathize with other people.
In a study of high-level managers, Goldman found that EQ accounted for 90% of the difference between average managers and star-performing leaders in organizations. The people that truly excel as leaders in management roles, as teachers, and as entrepreneurs all have very high EQ skills.
Having well-developed emotional intelligence can also make a quantifiable difference to your income. In Goldman’s study’s, highly emotionally intelligent leaders tended to exceed their annual earnings goals by 20 percent.
As a yoga teacher or wellness entrepreneur, you already have well-developed emotional intelligence skills. The pillars of yoga actually help us build our emotional intelligence as we practice.
There are four essential components of emotional intelligence, and I encourage you to read Goldman’s book to learn more. Let’s explore one of the components that is most relevant to you as a leader in your field – self-awareness.
In yoga, self-awareness is called Svadhyaya. “Sva” means self in Sanskrit, and self-awareness means you are cultivating a thorough understanding of yourself and how you affect others in the world. You know your own talents, gifts, strengths, and weaknesses.
As a yoga student and leader who is practicing regularly, you are already cultivating self-awareness. You are using the technology of yoga and meditation to look inward.
Self-awareness enables you to accurately assess yourself. In yoga, for example, you may struggle with arm balances, and you know that’s an area of your practice you need to lean into and strengthen. As an entrepreneur, perhaps you recognize your tendency to procrastinate, so you need to plan ahead and set up systems to support you in meeting deadlines.
Cultivating self-awareness means acknowledging the entire spectrum of yourself, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. Self-awareness helps us become effective leaders with our clients and students because it helps us process difficult emotions and overcome challenges. We can bounce back more quickly if we don’t meet our business goals, and not take it personally when we receive constructive criticism.
Having awareness of our strengths and weaknesses also makes it easier to ask for help when we need it. Remember that you don’t need to do everything yourself, and you certainly don’t need to know everything. Building a successful business is a team effort, and you can’t be an expert at everything.
When you have personal self-awareness, you can also see your businesses clearly. You can also make decisions confidently to reach your goals. You can consistently and clearly assess your capabilities, as well as the capabilities of others, and be able to give kind, clear feedback.
As a yoga teacher or wellness entrepreneur, you are already cultivating the qualities of being a powerful leader and entrepreneur. That gives you a distinct advantage as you are building a successful business.
Whenever you work with clients or students, are you already a leader because you help people stretch beyond their perceived limits. The best way to become an even better leader is to recognize all the opportunities you have to lead people and affect change.
Yoga teachers and wellness entrepreneurs are also hIghly emotionally intelligent individuals, so you have already have everything you need to continue to build a successful business and move into a greater sense of confidence, poise, and empowerment in your role as a leader and entrepreneur.
Do you have an example of a successful leader you admire? Share it in the comments below.