Message From Julie: Leadership Lessons from My Yoga Mat: Make the Choice to End the War with Reality


During a recent yoga class at The Mat, my teacher shared a quote for the definition of contentment from Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison: The choice to end the war with reality. She went on to say “Life isn’t as it should be or how we want it to be. Life is how it is.”

I immediately recognized the lesson for leaders. While few of the leaders I work with directly express a desire to feel more contentment, they do often express frustration. Frustration that their team doesn’t take enough initiative, frustration around team members not having a good work ethic, frustration at their team members not having the needed skills, frustration that they can’t find people trained to do what they need them to do. . . 

And it occurred to me that frustration comes from “being at war with reality”. 

What is frustration and the opposite? I consulted the thesaurus. Frustration was defined as:

  • “The feeling of being upset or annoyed as a result of being unable to change or achieve something.”
  • “The prevention of progress, success, or fulfillment of something.”

In addition to contentment, here are a few of the antonyms I found: gratification, pride, satisfaction, fulfillment, success, accomplishment, achievement, attainment, victory, and triumph. Now these are words that resonate with many leaders.

Would achieving these things make it worth it to you to choose to end the war with reality? 

It Starts with Acceptance

Accept the current situation for what it is. There are limited people with the training you need, your team is not currently taking the initiative you want them to take, you and your team are not on the same page regarding priorities, etc. You are accepting the situation for what it currently is. You are not accepting that this is how it has to be forever.

Second, define what you do want. When we feel frustrated, we are often focused on what we don’t want or on how our expectations are not being met. As long as we are focused on what we don’t want it is hard to move toward what we do want. 

Third, identify one to three concrete actions you can take to move toward your desired outcome.

Moving from frustration to fulfillment, or whatever antonym for frustration resonates with you, requires developing a new habit. In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg provides a framework for habit development that consists of three components: the cue, the routine, and the reward. 

Next time something doesn’t meet your expectations of how things should be (the cue), try accepting the situation for what it currently is, clearly defining what you want, and identifying one concrete action to take (the routine) then experience the antonym of frustration that most resonates with you (the reward). 

And remember, habit formation takes time!

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POSTED ON: Leadership