Three times a week I practice yoga – I’ve been doing it regularly for nearly 8 years now, and it’s a great way to ground myself in what I call “utter simplicity”.
Utter simplicity is that ability to center one’s focus on one, or just a few, images or thoughts.
Think about how hard that it really is these days to get to utter simplicity. SO many distractions. SO many demands on our time.
But it is SO good to get there, at least a few times a week, in my yoga practice.
And these days, when I arrive at utter simplicity, it always reminds me of how I took that little bit of zen and moved it to the workplace.
In the form of a very simple mantra, consisting of just 6 words, and composed of two thoughts.
I coined the mantra not long after I started practicing yoga, and it wasn’t coincidental. I not only saw, but felt the benefit of utter simplicity. I had more energy. I had more focus. I could see things with greater clarity.
My head just wasn’t as….messy.
It didn’t take long for me to figure out that this mental state would be a wonderful thing for my 1,100 teammates.
Because business can certainly make a mess of a lot of brains, especially businesses with a lot of moving parts (raise your hand if you’re with me on that!)
I spent a lot of time pondering this, and decided we needed a mantra. Something that we could literally recite like a mantra- designed to be repeated, over and over and over again.
Until we arrived at utter simplicity.
So the question became – what should this mantra be? It boiled down to this: What was the utter simplicity of our values and purpose as a business? What could make us supremely focused?
Through a lot of trial and error, I eventually settled on those 6 words.
And then, we required every employee to know them, and recite them, whenever we asked the question “what are we here to do?”
Every meeting, every day, I said those words out loud to my team. Repeatedly. My other managers and leaders would say them to their teams, repeatedly.
Eventually, nobody was ignorant of “what we are here to do“.
Eventually, everything we did as a company was put through this mantra filter.
Eventually, I didn’t have to say it – because people were saying it to me, with great pride.
Eventually, a lot of the messiness was overcome by this utter simplicity.
We existed to do two things.
Serve our customers
Support each other
This whole experience really clarified another mantra of mine, what I call the “zen of more human leadership“:
Simple is good. Repeated often.
Try to find that utter simplicity with your team, and see what happens. I think you’ll benefit in ways that go well beyond the business.