Wednesday, June 19, 2013

More Than One Tool

I attended a business analysis workshop yesterday.  The facilitator introduced a topic by saying "If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to treat everything as if it is a nail."

I could not agree more.  In my experience, people (myself included) tend to rely on two tools: the hammer (to smash things into your  opinion of "place") and the machete (to cut things away that do not fit into "place").

Think about it.  How much effort and grief goes into a performance review, which tends only to assess, in numerical form, an individual's worth, or, worse yet, is used to justify a RiF.  Compare to how little time is spent actually assessing and managing talent. How rare is it to hear: "We need a person with x,y,z strengths in this area.  Joe is consistently rating high in these strengths, yet he is not performing well in his current role. Let's bring him over to this area where his documented strengths should equal higher performance and more benefit to the organization."  Usually the opposite happens: can Joe and have two openings negatively effecting business and morale.

Transfer this way of thinking to our yoga practice.  Many of us (to some extent, me included), judge our entire practice solely against  asana.  "Great job, Ron!  You must be practicing because you can get deeper into that pose.  Now try this."

The words we use to describe our yoga practice tend to be compared to asana.  "Advanced" class translates into difficult contortions. "Restorative" and "Basics" classes tend to mean "easy" poses.

If asana is the only litmus test for our practice, what happens when I twist my ankle or hurt my shoulder doing something else and can not do complex contortions?  When I age and my connective tissue does not have the same elasticity, nor my muscles the same strength, nor my matabolism the same ability to burn off cake? If I can't do full Galavasana does that mean I no longer have an advanced practice?

As we grow in our practice, it is essential to re-define our relation to the practice.  For me, I no longer practice asana every day, but I do  recite the Hanuman Chalisa every day.  That has become more important to me.  That does not mean I am lazy--unless you are looking only at my asana practice. It has allowed me to stay with the practice rather than saying "I can't do 20+ handstands anymore.  Screw this, I'm taking up running."

Growth in practice includes management of your practice.  Stop, assess, and adjust as needed.

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