What have acupuncture, massages and meditations got to do with business?

By rotide
Created 03/07/2019 - 06:24
Kate Hutchinson.jpg

What on earth do therapies have to do with Business I hear you ask? Quite a bit actually. That is, if you want to stay ahead of the competition and make the best possible, commercially-focused, client-friendly decisions. 

I love meeting other business owners and entrepreneurs, especially early stage. They are invariably smart, ‘standout talented' in their field and confident, with that incredible drive to get there first (wherever ‘there' is).

I met large numbers of entrepreneurs when I led two separate tech community advocacy groups (part of Tech London Advocates) - TLA health tech and TLA creative tech. Between the two groups there were over 150 advocates - founders, big corporates, small startups, ideas people, investors and experts. We ran regular events, some high profile conferences in London Tech Week, we ran competitions and did everything we could to support the growth of new businesses by bringing together great people in an informal collective. It's an education to watch future leaders sell their ideas. You could always tell who was likely to succeed.

Trying to make your way in today's business world is an adventure, but it can also be rather chaotic and ever-changing so, if you're not careful, it can also become a drudge and a disappointment.

There are some things you can do to help avoid that fate. You need to have something special about you to get on today. That energy of yours needs to keep on coming, those new ideas need to be piling up like copies of JK Rowling's new book flying off the printing machines, that commercial know-how must keep growing, and you'll need to have the fitness of a personal trainer to cope with it all.  So, there's the point right there - it's not all about the business, you also need to look after yourself. Whether you're a first-time entrepreneur seeing potential investors start to nibble, whether you're ready to say Yaay, done it! to your first million, or whether you're already running a hugely successful global operation and can't quite believe how it all happened - you need to shore yourself up at every stage. Why? Because, guess what, it'll make you even better at your business.

Everyone has different ways of doing business.

Some go crazy working ridiculous hours in the office, turning up the heat at the gym and then afterwards in the bar. Phew. Maybe they run around the world, flying everywhere, ‘doing' meetings and conferences, having endless long ‘shouty' phone calls in airport lounges or on trains.

Others somehow get the balance right.  Sometimes they're so good that they can run things calmly from the kitchen table; making good effective calls, constructing well thought-out emails, being careful on detail but always aware of the wider vision of the business. They take their time.

How can you be more like this? Sometimes all you need to do is stop. For five minutes. Stop over functioning. Stop worrying. And start doing whatever it is that helps you operate at your best. It doesn't matter what level you're at or what area of business you're in - finance, accounting, business planning, marketing, technology - you need to allow time for you, as a human being, to do the best job you can - mind, body and spirit. Eat well, exercise your body, make time for relaxation and with those things in place your ability to think clearly and make considered decisions is improved. Some traditional therapies can help in this and, as you'll see below, they're really quite simple and straightforward.

1)    Take a couple of minutes before you jump out of bed in the morning to think calmly about the day ahead.

2)    You might want to try using positive affirmations - visualise important events in the day and affirm positively that X meeting is going to go well and that today will be a successful day. Believe it or not, I've seen almost immediate results with this one, even with sceptics.

3)    Nourish yourself with healthy foods to feed your brain - especially fresh fruit and vegetables - and make sure you give yourself plenty of time to eat it - no rushing - respect your digestive system.

4)    Find some time in every day to sit quietly, breathe gently and allow your mind to take a break.  It's called meditation but really it's quite a simple concept.

5)    Use an app if that appeals but don't allow any interruptions and don't keep checking your phone or emails.

6)    If you need extra help, why not try a half hour massage - total mind and body relaxation - promotes fresh thinking.

7)    If that doesn't appeal try acupuncture - it works by making sure the energy flows well and evenly around the body and tackles stress very effectively.

8)    Music therapy - you can't beat the power of music to give your thoughts some downtime. A track you love repeated over and over will do - choose one without distracting vocals. Try Spool's track Tuesday or gong sounds or, if you prefer classical, Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending.

Some companies have realised they need to add experiences like this to the working day - for better performing teams and also in order to encourage staff to stay. At Channel 4, there was always a yoga session each week for those who wanted it.  It was mainly women who turned up but that's changing as more men are seeing the benefits. Team meditation sessions are common in some organisations as a way of increasing productivity and encouraging positive team dynamics. At Disney, some enlightened boss brought in a reflexologist once a week so that everyone could have twenty-minutes if they wanted. And adjacent to the BBC there was a massage centre that was always busy with short sessions for deadline-anxious staff.

So next time you dismiss a chance to calm your mind, remember you're not doing yourself or your business any favours. No matter how busy you are, no matter what stage you're at, you need to look after yourself. It will pay huge dividends. And isn't that ultimately what most of us want?

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