First of all, for those who aren’t familiar with Barre, it’s a multifaceted workout that combines Yoga, Pilates and Ballet Barre postures. It’s a total body workout that incorporates music to guide your body through a mix of cardio, strength and mental conditioning. In order to get the most from this workout you need to be mentally present and tuned into your body.
Practicing Barre has taught me to connect to my breath and use it as a tool. Learning to breathe with intention helps calm the mind. When I’m able to regulate my breath I can tap into parts of my mind that tell me I’m strong and can do more than I think. I’m also more resilient to stressful situations when I can remember to connect with my breath.
Our mind is a trickster. It can flood us with a barrage of messages. Some are useful, but most are just noise. If you have kids you’ll know exactly what I’m describing. An unfocused mind is desperate for direction and works overtime in search of focus. We sometimes mislabel this as ADD or ADHD. Or perhaps think of it as boredom. How you might feel depends on the types of messages your brain is sending you.
Our body is designed to be efficient and this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s working optimally. Our body is designed to work as little as possible. That’s why it feels so good to sit and nap. This is why it can feel like a struggle to get through a workout. Your body was designed back in the days when us humans needed to conserve our energy because we didn’t know what might be hiding in the bushes. This instinct served us well at the time, but now it’s part of the reason obesity is on the rise.
There’s a Big Difference Between Pain and Discomfort
Discomfort is something we generally try to avoid. But when we aren’t comfortable is when we learn the most about ourselves.
1. Challenges are our best teachers.
The more aware you become of yourself in moments of challenge the better you’ll be able to understand yourself and others. You can only understand others by understanding yourself. Empathy is the hallmark of design thinking. Cultivating empathy requires an ability to be vulnerable; which isn’t typically a comfortable state of being. Confidence takes practice. Be patient. Remember to breathe. Solutions lack impact when they aren’t linked to meaningful insights. Allow yourself to be challenged and get to know who you really are. If you want to design solutions you need to be self aware.
2. There’s always a new edge to discover.
We often exist on the surface of things because we are scared we can’t handle going deeper or we’re functioning on auto-pilot. Sometimes we need to get unstuck from limited thinking in order to explore new edges. Our edges are important because they show us how far we can go. As innovators we want to push against edges to challenge conventional thinking. As designers we want to understand the design constraints. Edges are an important tool for making the best solutions for people.
3. Work smarter, not harder.
Efficiency is very important. Regardless of what kind of company or organization is trying to solve a problem we want to work smarter, not harder. A question you should always ask yourself is, “How might we achieve our objectives in less time?” Why this matters is because momentum propels us towards each stage of the design process and we want to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible in order to keep improving. We can’t improve quickly if we work inefficiently. Sprints are a great example of working smarter. Creative working sessions with a diverse mix of experts can accomplish much more than the traditional way of working in silos. Don’t let yourself function in a state of autopilot. Be mindful. Always ask yourself if there’s a more efficient way to accomplish your goals.