Lessons,  Management,  What I Learned from Yoga

Handling Stress

Stress.  As a CEO you’re supposed to be immune to stress.  You’re the captain of the ship; the general of the army.  Never let them see you sweat…all that stuff.  But, you’re also human.  All humans experience stress in one form or another and a various times.  The important thing is what to do about it.  The way you handle the stress that life presents is the key.

The other issue as a CEO is that you rarely have people you can confide in.  No one really wants to hear about your troubles, and, see above, you are not supposed to have any troubles.  Many of the activities you can perform to help alleviate stress are therefore not available to you.  One thing you can do is a solitary activity: meditation.

For me, yoga is a moving meditation.  As much as possible during my practice, I am completely in the moment.  I am not distracted by either the past or the future.  It is centering, it allows me to focus and is hugely stress relieving.  This Harvard Business Review article has a very yoga-liked feeling to me.

Harvard Business Review – Stress and How to Handle It

The HBR article explains a very clinical analysis of what stress is and how it works on the body.  The article also outlines how to find your own personal stress triggers.  Once identified it’s easier to manage how you react to them.  Much like stray thoughts during meditation, the first step is to recognize the stress inducer, acknowledge it and then move on.  Interestingly, my main trigger – the feeling of not being in control – is not on their list.


Most of the focus of the HBR article is external stress caused by others.  The advice is to assume the best in others and look to see how their actions that are causing the street could be interpreted more positively.  In that more positive light, does their action still induce a stress response?  Hopefully the answer to that is no.  In that case, carry on with that assumption until proven otherwise.

For me, others rarely cause stress.  Maybe it’s because I generally employ that rule of always attempting to see the best in people and to see their best intentions instead of their worst.  For me the issue is more one of feeling overwhelmed and a sense of not having any control over those circumstances.  That’s were yoga comes in.  Yoga in general and specifically Bikram (Hot) Yoga forces me to focus on the practice and nothing but that for the duration of the class.  I control my body, my breathing and the general calmness of my mind.  Then, later, when a stress activity arises, a single deep breath can bring back that sense of calm.

For you, the solution to stress does not have to be yoga.  It works for me, but it’s not for everyone.  The important thing to remember is to know that no matter how calm, cool and collected someone looks on the outside, they still at some point or another have to deal with stress in their life.  Recognizing the stress inducing aspects of your life is the first step in leading a more clear and focused life.  Namaste.







“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation: we do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather have these because we have acted rightly; these virtues are formed in man by doing his actions; we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
– Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy (1926)


Image Source: The Met Open Access.  The Falling Gladiator – William Rimmer.  1907  Cast Bronze.



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