Find Your Voice and Collaborate with Others

Presented by Suzanne Sterling | Published on: March 18, 2014

This week we present our eighth business of yoga video session release, featuring both of Suzanne Sterling's sessions "Finding Your Purpose as a Leader: Karma Yoga for our Times" and "Radical Collaboration: Forming Alliances". Suzanne explains how individuals within the yoga community can find their voices, share power with others, and realize what they need to do to achieve their spiritual goals.

In truth, there is identity. In service, there is fulfillment. Suzanne Sterling, an activist and co-founder of Off the Mat, Into the World, spoke at the 2013 Business of Yoga Conference about what drives activism and how you can work with others so you can learn from and give back to your community.

Radical Collaboration: Forming Alliances

Karma Yoga for Our Times

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Find Your Purpose. Achieve Your Aims.

Suzanne proposed the reason you may seek to serve is based in part on your own experiences. It can be directly tied to whatever group you want to help or it may be indirect, but there is a trigger in your past for your present actions.

"So we're holding these three things now: the challenge that really speaks to your heart, the hope that lights you up and moves you forward, and the thing which you know," she said.

While it's easy to determine the reasons why you may not be able to achieve something, Suzanne encouraged conference attendees to list the resources that they already had in place supporting their visions. Examples included available studio space, finances or a strong community.

She recommended listing resources you might need to attract and what small actions you might take to make something happen, versus focusing on why something may not seem achievable. It could be something as simple as research or talking to one person in your family to facilitate a start.

"Once we get past trepidation and fear in speaking about our passion, we enter a trajectory and then you can't stop," said Suzanne.

She defined "conscious activism" as given by author Joanna Macy, which includes direct action, studying the root causes of problems, and shifting values so someone can transform from the inside out.

Collaboration for the Yoga Community

Part of working together is understanding what's really driving each person to enter into service. "Radical collaboration means we understand our own motivations," said Suzanne. "We know how to come back to our center and we know how to relate with each other."

If you understand your motivation to serve, then you may understand how your actions are meant to heal your own traumas. She guaranteed that there's a reflection of someone's own trauma in that person's activism.

"And that's a beautiful, beautiful thing because there's no one better than you to serve that population but only if you've worked on your motivations and issues and have explored and taken responsibility for them," she added.

Asking self-reflective questions like who you are, what motivates you, and what's holding you back from service you might offer are all steps that can help you find your voice and start building a team so that you don't have to act alone. According to Suzanne, "We have to find our voice, step off that mat and collaborate with each other."

Change the World Through Your Own Steps

Suzanne recalled how her non-profit group received a sponsorship from a major yoga clothing manufacturer. However, she and others realized it would be hypocritical for them to accept support without knowing the ethical practices of the factories that made the company's clothes, (citing the garment factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013 that killed more than 1,100 people).

They decided they could no longer accept that financial support. They later discovered that their decision to pull out led to conversations at that manufacturer about their factories.

"As we stand for values, as we take our stands, as we draw our lines in the sand, we might not have an immediate effect, but we might actually have a long-term effect on the values of the culture that we're trying to shift and change," said Suzanne.

Share Power and Divide Responsibility

Based on her own experience, Suzanne focused on co-teaching and establishing sustainable business practices that include caring for the next generation, caring for the environment, and impacting communities instead of just short-term gains.

Many successful companies focus on retention and put money into their employees' happiness and care. When others are happy to work with you or for you, they're less likely to leave. Suzanne warned that employee turnover can cost 40 percent of a business's annual profits. However, a company like computer software giant SAS Institute in North Carolina, which emphasizes employee benefits and relationships, had a turnover rate of just four percent instead of the 20 percent national average.

"It's so profound to have the figures to demonstrate that when we invest in the humans in our businesses, and invest in the values that we believe in as business owners, then the bottom line goes up," said Suzanne. "And that's an arsenal we can use when we go out into communities and start building coalitions, partnerships and alliances with others. It is actually not just a nice thing to do, it's actually a practical thing to do as well."

About Suzanne Sterling

Suzanne Sterling is a dedicated musician, yogi, activist and social innovator who has been performing and teaching transformational workshops for over 20 years. An award winning musician, she is a leading expert in sound and consciousness and has released multiple solo albums and DVD soundtracks. Suzanne is an integral part of the nationwide faculty for YogaWorks Teacher Trainings, and since 2007 has been training leaders of conscious activism through Off the Mat, Into the World. Suzanne is the Director of OTM's Seva Challenge. Her life work is dedicated to inspiring others to find their unique voice and to use self-expression as a tool for community building and conscious evolution.

Eligibility for Continuing Education

This workshop counts for one Continuing Education Non-Contact Hour or one RYS Curriculum Non-Contact Hour under the Teaching Methodology category.

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