Saturday, October 15, 2011

Leader of the Pack

I used to work in the high tech industry. At Winstar, I was a regional manager responsible for the marketing person working at each of the following locations: Seattle, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, Irvine, San Diego, Phoenix and Denver. That was a fun job. I got to travel a lot and it was before 9/11 so it was an easy Southwest flight to each office. All of the sales offices were responsible for the exact same task - to sell broadband communication services to businesses in a specified building. The technology limited the locations we could sell in, thus the importance of the marketing team to help the sales people reach the decision maker.

But here's the point: even though each office had the EXACT same goal, the EXACT same formula, the EXACT same job titles and responsibilities, each office had a very particular personality. They operated in different ways, they had a different "tone," they were each radically different in style, and in performance. Who set the tone? Why the head honcho of each regional office, of course! The general manager!

So how does this relate to yoga? Easy peasy, actually. A few weeks ago, a visiting teacher from a studio owned by a very good friend came through town and taught a class for us at BHYM. I almost laughed out loud during her class -- not because she said anything wrong - well actually she DID same some stuff wrong (nothing huge, small stuff really) - she said the EXACT SAME wrong things that the studio owner had said when she taught at our studio two weeks earlier! And she sounded almost exactly like her studio owner. If I had closed my eyes, I might have thought it was the owner. It was amazing! And hugely insightful!

The same observation that I had way back in high-tech days applies to BY -- the general manager (or studio owner) sets the tone and everyone who works there pretty much follows suit. It's the studio owner whom is emulated - and for better or worse, the teachers that come from that studio have a similar teaching style! At times, to the point where the same intonations are made and the same emphasis is made.

So what? So if you are a new teacher, make note of your studio owner. Is he/she someone you want to emulate? Does he/she have a teaching style that you respect and want to mimic? If not, perhaps you should find a different studio, or at least travel around to learn from as many owners as you can! Because at some point, you will start to resemble the "personality" of your studio!

And even more important, as studio owners we have to ask ourselves, are we the best person we can be? Are we being the best teacher possible? Are we worth emulating? What is the tone we are setting at our location and do we want that tone to go out in the world? Because whether we are deliberate or not, we are being emulated and those who resemble us will represent us!

It is my intention that I am a studio owner, teacher and manager setting a tone that's worthy of emulation.