In a first article, I shared the first three ethical principles of Classical Yoga which can be helpful to more Conscious Leadership. Here are three more:
4. Brahmacharya: Chastity
One of my mentors, Michel Vallier, used to say:
“I don’t take my meat where I take my bread.”
Behind this old school and quite misogynous saying, there is an interesting truth about values and integrity:
Beware of your boundaries.
Sexual affairs are all too common in the workplace. (Interesting statistics here)
The healthier boundaries you have at work, the more successful you can become.
I am not making a moral case here, but a case for integrity, which is a pre-requisite for feeling whole (see Conscious Leadership commitment #6: Integrity).
Gay Hendricks, in The Big Leap, explains that for instance, Bill Clinton’s affair that brought him down was a symptom of the Upper Limit Problem: after you break your ceiling for success, you will probably self-sabotage by doing something to bring yourself back down, unless you become conscious of it and expand your capacity for success, love and abundance.
If you are starting to feel feelings for someone at work, it’s healthy to process them and feel them completely.
Practicing chastity at work will allow you to use the sexual-creative energy and feelings to fuel your creativity and productivity while keeping harmonious and drama-free relationships at work and at home.
If you do feel like engaging romantically and sexually with someone from the professional context, make sure that you create the necessary boundaries, and agreements, and anticipate the downside before going further. Michel Vallier added: “If you do engage romantically with someone from work, make sure it’s for a healthy relationship and marry them.”
5. Aparigriha: Non-possession (Non-greed and Non-attachment)
During a survival training, we were taught by the instructor in edible plants gathering the rule of the 3 thirds:
When you are gathering plants in the wild, take only one third of the plant for yourself, leave one third for the next passer-by, and one third for the plant to regenerate itself.
This reflects well the principle of Aparigriha.
If we applied this in business, in all our business dealings, we would eliminate the following problems:
-company cashflow struggle or bankruptcy (and thus, creation of Prosperity)
-employee burnout and disengagement (taking care of the People)
The non-attachment part also links to the non-attachment to the results of our action. This is karma yoga: the yoga of action. Call the potential client without being attached to them buying your product/service. Ask for the promotion without being attached to receiving it. Be open to expanding your business without being attached to the results of growth.
Sometimes, thinking too small is what is keeping you stuck. Thinking about your next fish is what keeps you from creating a system for fishing automatically (which can be healthy for the environment, as long as it does not overfish). For instance, organizations such as The Ocean Cleanup have an ambition to clean the Oceans, and they do so by thinking big.
6. Sauchan: Cleanliness
One of my uncles, a very successful Ethnobotanist, can’t start to work unless his desk is clear and clean. I feel the same way. Clutter is an obstruction to clarity.
Cluttered physical space is often a symptom of a cluttered mind.
Your outer reality is a reflection of your inner state of being.
If you want to create more clarity in your life, cultivate cleanliness. Start by making your bed in the morning, and observe yourself:
Are you hurrying up to go to “the important things” during the day?
Do you leave a bed that is half-ass done?
I believe that the way you do one thing is the way you do everything.
Take the time to make your bed properly in the morning, and the rest of your day will unfold accordingly.
You can tell quite a bit about a person’s level of self-efficacy about how they spend the first hour of their day.
Cleanliness is not only external (your environment).
It is also internal (your state of mind, and your emotional state).
What kind of thoughts are you having?
Are they clear, creative, loving and innovative?
Or are they repetitive, cyclical, and “negative” or chit-chatty?
Here are some ways to cultivate cleanliness:
- Clean up your physical space, and declutter (Use Marie Kondo’s method, hire a cleaning person, clean up yourself, make your bed)
- Stay clean outside (shower) and inside (do what it takes to honor your body like you would honor a temple. That might mean doing what it takes to quit smoking or eliminating this habit that is holding you back.)
- Take care of your belongings so they stay clean and functional
- Meditate to keep a clear mind
- Practice Yoga, Qi-Gong, or other energy-based practices
- Eat clean food (think raw, vegan, non-processed), and eat mindfully
- Spend time in clean environments (to remind yourself of what cleanliness is)
- Become and Empire Cleaner
It is interesting to see that this principle is close to Jordan Peterson’s Rule #6: “Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.”
There are moments to lead others, where you need to stop focusing on yourself and your own cleanliness. You can already serve as a role model as you are, empower others and shine in the world.