As a card carrying evangelist for startups, entrepreneurs and all things innovative, I like to apply the fundaments of how those businesses run and behave to my own life. Agility is one of those key tenets, and i've always been agile - taking redirects in my life and career on the head of a pin, and seeking adventure and change with a healthy appetite for risk. Move to Tasmania? Sure why not. Take this job or that - could be fun! Do a PhD - imagine what i'll learn. Write a book- i'll give it a go. That's my nature, and while its confronting undoubtedly for people who like a slow and steady as you go approach, its my way, and I see the method where others perhaps see the madness.
Towards the end of 2015 I made a decision to leave my contract at the ABC as a presenter a month early and go back to my digital and strategic consulting business full time. After a couple of years of being back in large organisational institutions - industrial and creative, I was done with the layers of bureaucracy and the cultural malaise. Where there can't be a pivot, a quick decision made without a hundred forms and a sub committee, and inspiring equitable cultures that are actually values based, its hard to have innovation and inspiration in action. No regrets there, the experiences were amazing and since the step change, the work has flowed in. When you are happy and engaged, your work is good, productivity high and clients are satisfied and come back for more AND send others.
Right at the end of 2015 I was preparing for two breaks from work: undertaking a 2 year Diploma in Yogic studies at the Satyananda ashram in NSW intensively and online, and to take a trip to Vrindivan, India for a month to do some volunteer work at a school for girls I support . These activities had been planned well in advance, mainly to motivate me to get to the end of my day job with a light at the end of the tunnel. Then I had a realisation that I actually didn't want to do either of these actual things - what I wanted to do was the elements they represented. I wanted a deep, spiritual immersion. I wanted to nourish my body with good inputs, I wanted to exercise and be warm in the sunshine, and I wanted to have a break from striving and working and achieving to think and dream and create. Lots of wants there, and who doesn't want those things?
This revelation had been triggered by seeing an advertisement strategically placed on my Facebook feed for a 7 week immersion yoga teacher training course at the Krishna Village in Murwillumbah. Rather than ignoring it, I clicked on in. I think this call to action resonated as I have a big soft spot for the Hare Krishna ashram. I love the area, I love their food, I love singing Kirtan and the idea of spending 7 weeks in lush tropical paradise in full yogic bliss and getting a teacher training qualification was pretty appealing. So, I thought, and thought. I tried not to think about it. I couldn't stop thinking about it and I thought about all my bookings, logistics, flights, connections, commitments, responsibilities. Then I thought about what I really wanted, for me. And I swung a massive pivot on the 2nd of January.
I believe to really keep the fire in the belly and momentum raging, periods of retreat to recalibrate are necessary. Yes, life gets in the way, responsibility, income, mortgages, family, partners, pets, bills etc. There is no denying that - and then, there is denying the strangle hold on your creativity by simply making it happen. Like all great moments in an entrepreneurs life, timing plays an integral part. I had already cleared my diary for 2 months to travel. I had already invested the money in the courses etc which were refundable, and I have a very agile partner who when presented with the pitch for my 7 week absence from our life said it sounds amazing you should do it.
These types of retreats are immensely challenging: physically, emotionally, mentally. All that space, silence, meditation and bodywork tends to unleash all of the things you have been cramming into the 'deal with later' basket through masking them with overwork, overeating, overdrinking, oversleeping and overworry. Clearing out that basket, getting rid of all of the grime clinging to who you are, that is the benefit, and to be frank, a week is great, but it doesn't really cut it. You have to do a lot of cleaning on the lamp to let the genie out. So i'm starting rubbing 30 days out, before I pack up my bag, drum, Aeroguard and courage and head to the Ashram for 7 weeks. Of course you're coming on the journey with me right? I'm taking the yoga revelation blog across to a new site for my philosophising - meet you in downward dog www.ohmygovinda.com
Dr Polly McGee is one part writer, and many parts assorted thinker, do-er, talker, eater, chef, explorer, yogi, kirtaneer and dog wrangler. She has worked in kitchens, bars and restaurants from frantic to fancy, managed multi-million dollar innovation grants programs, advised hundreds of start-ups on how to refine their business ideas and source funding, and championed causes from a variety of soapboxes, lecterns and stages. She is currently the Strategic Marketing Lead for Global Edtech Startup Prosper Education. Her new book, The Good Hustle, is coming out in February 2018