Down Dogging with my Coworkers

So, I was down-dogging with my co-workers Monday morning—yes, as in the yoga movement that is best performed not facing another human being—when I was struck not only by a hamstring tinge but also by how comfortable we had all become with each other, not just as colleagues but as fellow human beings. For about half a year now, this is the way we’ve been starting most every Monday morning at Involve as part of our effort to live the culture we preach. Doing yoga. Practicing mindfulness. Receiving life coaching.

We are a brand activation firm intrigued by culture and its impact on our business. We believe business is personal and transactions are momentary, but relationships are enduring. And, our beliefs require authentic, shared connection. But, our question was, how do we achieve this intangible “thing” (beliefs that jump to life) so that people who work with us feel our culture.

Of course, in the beginning when we were contemplating how to better do “culture” we had the same ideas everyone else has … holiday parties, bowling and pizza, catching people doing things right (which strangely seemed adopted from middle school, but I never judged when the idea floated about). And, these ideas just weren’t enough to really make palpable what we believe. We knew we needed more to engrain that being part of the Involve team means trusting each other like trapeze artists, respecting the human being (not just their work output), coaching each other and our clients to be our best selves and being present in our work (and lives).

One thing we kept coming back to was how much LIFE our Monday morning production meetings—which are entirely necessary—seemed to be syphoning out of our staff. That’s when our company president (a closet-Zen guy) suggested Mindfulness Monday. We don’t call it that—well, I do to my spouse as leave my house to get there. But, that’s what it is. Initially, we hoped that by leaning in to the week differently, we’d defuse the stress that normally begins Sunday night. And, we have.

So, we start with a healthy settle in, then yoga (taught by one of our Rock Star employees), followed by mindfulness, and end with coaching from an inspirational life coach who also is a partner, Julie Wilkes of Seven Studios. After we are all scads more flexible, a bit more centered in gratitude, a lot less scattered and heaps more singularly focused, we hold our production meeting.

I know what you’re thinking … you coach mindfulness … in business. Really?! And, yes, we do. We figured at the outset that coaching mindfulness and giving our team members permission to have a more wellness-directed professional experience would make them better in life. And, we’ve experienced that it makes us better in business. Plus, what better way to polish one’s coach skills for our clients than to go through the experience of being coached.

Of course, if we have a deadline that can’t wait, Mindfulness Monday gets put on hold. Though an overloaded Monday does not pass without a reminder email from our president of the importance of mindfulness. But, more often that not, we really can control our work lives more than we would have imagined when we started this. And, here’s what else I’ve noticed: we are more grateful; we are more connected (something about being in yoga attire, barefoot without makeup breaks down any pretenses fast); we seem better able to cope with stress; and our ideas are more creative. Oh, and we’re growing, so that’s pretty cool.

I don’t know if this idea would work for every type of office. But, for a cool boutiquey marketing company specializing in health, wellness and fitness where we rely on our employees to be smart, creative and effective—and where RELATIONSHIPS are paramount—I give it a big happy sun salutation.

2 Comments

  1. Austin Owens
    February 20, 2017 - Reply

    I worked in an agency that did this sort of thing on Fridays. Never as involved as Yoga or anything physically active but we watched TED talks and has an open and frank discussion about the week. Nothing was too taboo but of course you were respectful. We all took time to share what we were grateful for from the past week and what we were looking forward to from the upcoming week. It was a fun, albeit early (7:30am!) start to a weekend. It’s nice to know that it was not an isolated idea.

    • February 21, 2017

      That’s great Austin! We really find that this keeps us present and helps keep us balanced. I love the idea of watching TED talks, we refer to TED a lot when working on projects – perhaps we should ‘formally’ include something like this in our weekly practice. Lifelong learning is certainly one of our core values!

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