Ashtanga Entrepreneur: Introduction

Having spent most of my life surrounded by and studying ancient esoteric knowledge I’ve come to find that our modern world overly mystifies this knowledge as a result of not connecting the ideas to modern concepts. Thousands of years ago, without the internet or books, cultural leaders needed ways to structure society and capture experiential knowledge. This was done through systems and practices that were taught and practiced as part of daily life. Over time, as the world has changed and the practical purposes of those systems may no longer be applicable or may be forgotten. They have become routines and forms rather than practical activities tied to real modern outcomes.

Ashtanga Yoga is one such system, which I believe has tremendous modern application if studied more for its intent rather than specific forms. At its core Ashtanga Yoga is a holistic system for managing spiritual growth but also daily life in a balanced and internally focused manner. Many similar systems exist both from ancient and modern roots.

As an Entrepreneur and business leader, I’ve often researched and sought to find a holistic system for managing business development. Since nothing stood out as an ideal model, I began to wonder if ancient systems such as Ashtanga Yoga could be applied. Amazingly, I found that it was quite easy to apply the principles of Yoga to the activities needed to operate a business successfully. Ashtanga Yoga is an 8-part system which covers a range of practices to tune the body and mind for spiritual advancement. The history and origins as well as details of the current practices of Ashtanga Yoga are varied and not always clear. This link may be of interest but there is actually a limited amount of high quality information on the web about the true origins of Asthanga Yoga (http://www.pacificcultural.org/yiteachings.html).

Ashtanga Entrepreneur

Below I have drawn parallels from the practices of Ashtanga Yoga to operating practices of a business. I believe these make up a comprehensive set of principles that, when implemented as part of an overall organizational culture, lead to a balanced and healthy organization. Some may find this comparison an absurd and even impossible construct and may question the interpretation of each limb. Regardless of whether it’s a fully accurate portrayal of the ancient system, I feel strongly that this can be used as a modern system for Entrepreneurial success. I’ve outlined the parallels below and will discuss each in detail in the next 8 parts of this series.

Ashtang Entrepreneur

Image: http://www.shelleyenlow.com/ashtangayoga/

DIRECT ACTIVITIES

Yama (Principles): The guiding values of the business which should be adhered to in decision and action

Niyama (Disciplines): Controls to maintain a lean, clean and quality-focused operation

Asana (Work): The training and disciplines for how people maintain sharpness and skill in the work as well as “how” people do their jobs

Pranayama (Pace): Recurring practices of daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly management to balance the business inputs and outputs

 CONCEPTUAL ACTIVITIES

Pratyahara (Introspection): Withdrawal from the running of the business to analyze metrics, results and intelligence to help understand the impact of activities

Dharana (Focus): Repeated revisiting of and reflection upon the mission and vision of the business at a strategic level with the intent of identifying value creating opportunities and shedding non-value creating

Dhyana (Integration): The synthesis of concepts for the business operation into the direct activities repeated in action consistently over time

Samadhi (Realization): The ultimate achievement of the Entrepreneur in being able to trust that the foundations of process and leadership have been fully-rooted in the organization and for more extended periods, liberation from the business is achieved

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