for Men

The Workplace Environment

The pace of change in corporate America has quickened due to the revolution in information and communications technology. In addition, the pace of consolidation of companies within industries has increased. This is causing tremendous turbulence and upheaval in the American corporate workplace. 

Change in an organization starts at the individual level. The human resource departments at many companies devote substantial resources to developing and retaining talent. Unfortunately many of the initiatives that are presented are doomed to failure. This is because the leadership of the organization has not embraced the belief systems, which the human resource department is promoting. The resulting cynicism and mistrust impairs productivity and morale. Furthermore, the individual differences among employees are not honored in this, “One Size Fits All Approach” to employee motivation and change management.

The key to success is to help employees understand who they are, and what are their strengths. Once defined, we can begin to develop a program that motivates the individual, and design tools to help employees enjoy the process of change and growth.

For example, consider the exercise of meditation to promote a clear mind. Annie is very analytical. She might be best suited for a guided visualization that talks to her thinking mind. A physically active man such as Oscar might need program that lets him transmute his anger such as Power Yoga. Manny who tends to fall asleep when sitting still may be drawn to Sufi dancing or chanting or a walking meditation.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Psychotherapists Enter the Workplace to Aid Dysfunctional Staffs”, highlights this new trend in corporate America as management consultants trained as psychotherapists are making their way into corporate offices. According to the article, “people’s ambitions, dreams, and egos are all involved in work, yet they are supposed to act as if none of this affects their own or their company’s performance. The result is a lot of unacknowledged emotional static that hurts productivity.”

The Yoga for Business Philosophy takes the analysis one step further by trying to understand the spiritual significance of why we are in each other’ s lives and what we are here to learn from the experience. We may even go so far as to advocate a “Spiritual Termination,” which if done with love and compassion can be an opportunity for both the company and the employee to grow.

A case study has just been presented using three characters; Manny Problemas from Marketing, Oscar Fodder from Operations, and Annie Thracks from Accounting. We have followed the experiences of these three hapless employees as their Human Resource department embarked on yet another motivational program. The “Yoga for Business” consultants have been called in to help the End Run Company Improve Performance.

While the program is well designed and powerful, we ask the question…  

”Can effective change occur if top management doesn’t practice what it preaches?”:

1. It is possible that once a belief system reaches a critical mass, change will occur. 

2. Our goal is to empower the workforce with skills that will not only improve the company’s bottom line, but can enhance personal lives.

3. Consequently there will be a groundswell of support for change in corporate stewardship.

The characters presented have certain archetypal characteristics based upon the ancient science of Ayurveda. In the appendix specific details of the characteristics, both physical, emotional and financial, that correspond to each character, are listed. Only by honoring the differences that make us unique can we develop a motivational program that speaks to the entire workforce. You may find that your personality spans a number of these characters or perhaps you can identify strongly with just one.

Additional tools that may be lacking in your belief systems will be presented and you will be asked to consider expanding your horizon. By demonstrating dysfunctional responses using humor you may feel less threatened when certain belief systems are challenged. Try to be open to consider change in a more objective manner.

The dysfunction in companies creates injury and harm to employees and ultimately to the customers who are not being served effectively.

Dysfunction occurs due to management’s embrace of the following leadership traits: autocratic, egotistical, and obsessive. If the problems are not addressed and corrected the very survival of the organization could be in jeopardy.

As a CPA, MBA and Yoga Instructor, I’ve always lectured clients on how to maximize the use of their assets to be competitive. In most companies, the greatest asset is their human capital. However, our current financial accounting models ignore this most important element of a business. The result is that we have not devoted adequate resources to our employees and the valuation of our companies has been distorted.

Often times, as in the case of the End Run company, more emphasis is placed on creating attractive financial statements than on substantial and fundamental reform of the organization. In such cases the use of accounting fiction and accounting creativity runs counter to the values we hold dearly such as trust and honesty. Sometimes this action is born of desperation such as when the vision of the company is not coming to fruition. Instead of altering the vision and accepting changing market conditions, the executives try to rewrite the rules. This creates an irreconcilable conflict for principled employees and sets the stage for moral decay. The decline in values increases the risk of employees and executives profiting personally and putting themselves ahead of other employees, shareholders and the mission of the organization. The end result is a downward spiral. Even if all of the other Yogic principles are followed, without integrity, the organization cannot survive.

By combining what I’ve learned about Yoga and business, I’ve developed a program that has integrated the two and demystified this ancient eastern philosophy. The concepts of Yoga and business are congruent. This is because they are both based upon an organic interpretation of the “organization” and “human being” as changing and not static. The only certainty is change and the business organizations that understand these principles have the greatest longevity.

If it were not for evolution, we would not be here. Most change is gradual; however some change has been revolutionary such as the rise of mammals after the extinction of the dinosaurs by a catastrophic asteroid collision. For business and society gradual change is preferable and more stable.

By highlighting the dysfunction in a humorous manner and then presenting alternatives, we honor the pain being experienced in the workforce. By approaching conflict from this perspective we can connect at a deeper level of understanding.

Today there is a growing skepticism towards motivational personalities and the corporate culture. By poking fun at ourselves we wanted to expose our vulnerability and humanity. We don't propose a magic cure, but we are offering a number of tools you can use to reclaim your power, but in a light hearted and loving way. 

© 2007, Bruce Eric Van Horn

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If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health. - Hippocrates

Author, CPA, MBA and yoga instructor Bruce Van Horn founded Yoga for Business, Inc., a company devoted to organizational and individual wellness. He presents a daily Yoga Workout routine that provides a complete physical, mental and spiritual workout. He is the author of Yoga for Prostate Health and Yoga for Men, designed for all levels of experience with yoga.. He has renamed (Asanas) positions in Yoga using terms from business to help you identify with the movement and focus your attention. He is the Chair of the Advisory Board for the Center for Complimentary Medicine at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Bruce also leads a volunteer yoga program designed for cancer patients and healthcare workers at Beth Israel Medical Center. He lives outside New York with his wife Michelle who is a Reiki Master. Bruce has two daughters who have asked that he refrain from headstands at the town pool. His website is If you have any questions, feel free to write: E-Mail.

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