5 Things Mindfulness Taught Me When No-one Turned Up
I recently launched my own yoga classes in my hometown. By this I mean, I rented a location, bought equipment, put up posters. No relying on a gym or studio to generate customers. After days of rushing around, putting up posters, advertising on social media and local press, I was tired but hoping it was all pay off.
Of course, as you may imagine, no one turned up to my first class.
Well, my mum was there. She asked me if I was disappointed. I just breathed and realised that yes, I was disappointed. But all the reactions that I would have had to this situation a couple of years ago were not present. I was not angry; I wasn’t blaming anyone or anything; I wasn’t ashamed; I didn’t feel a failure; and I had no desire to give up.
Mindfulness has taught me not to react. As I sat with my mum and breathed I experienced the emotions of disappointment and also a deep tiredness (being an entrepreneur has freedom but is also HARD). I let it wash over me, kept breathing — and then went home for a TV supper.
Over the next couple of days allowed myself to respond to and process what happened. And here is what I realised being mindful had taught me about this situation:
- It’s not about me
It is very easy when no one turns up to your class, or meeting, or event or party to think that there is something wrong with you. The main lesson here is that it is rarely about you. This is not a case of people not liking me, or liking my product. In fact as Don Miguel Ruiz teaches us in The Four Agreements, we need to learn to not take anything personally. People’s reactions to us are always about their story and their issues. Of course, sometimes our behaviour is in appropriate, but by starting from the point of ‘its not about me’ allows us to focus on the behaviour, and not the emotional reaction.
In this case, I realised that this wasn’t about me as I had not actually met any of my potential students — and also that I know my product is good. I know this because I have teaching experience and feedback from students is positive. My classes at the gym are always fully booked, with students demanding more yoga on the timetable. Realising this gave me more head space to figure out what was really going on.
2. I woke up to my weaknesses
I had to admit that my marketing was not great and I didn’t focus on it. I know very little about marketing and it’s also something that I don’t really like. It can also be very time consuming. Rob Symington at Escape the City teaches that marketing is about building a tribe, and then selling to that community. This takes a while. I decided to find someone that I know is really good at doing this kind of work online, leaving me time to do local personal contacts where I can. I decided that spending money on hiring someone to grow my tribe and connect with others via social media was a good investment.
3. I cannot control everything
It has been incredibly cold here in Kent recently. On the night of my first class, it was freezing and windy. Despite my venue being warm, cosy and well located, the fact is, without a personal connection or compelling reason, few people are going to get home from work and then leave their warm houses to come outside to a product they haven’t tried yet. Understanding that there are many things in life that you cannot control, and learning to be OK with this, is a key aspect of mindfulness.
Other people’s perception of value is also something you only have limited control over. There are questions about the cost of yoga, especially with so much for free online, and more established teachers able to do classes for very little money. I did price check in my locality, and I priced according to how valuable I think the experience is. But I have realised that I may have to re-visit my perceptions of this value and make sure that it is aligned with potential customers in this location.
4. Intention is key
My coach, the amazing Belinda Clarke, asked me straight out what my intention was in setting up these classes. My instant reaction was that I needed to earn money. Her response was that potential clients would feel this and be put off. She suggested I take time to meditate on what my true intention was — that I want to help people feel better. Her idea was to meditate and put this out to the universe, and that I would get a different response. Often our first intention is the money, but when our values are skewed it can lead us into jobs or lives that make us miserable, or to run unprofitable businesses. I had to look at the values that underpin my business: helping others to feel better, wake up, move, understand who they are and what works for them. Once I set out with this intention, then the money will follow.
5. Focus on the now, not the expectation
The lovely Ben Keene tells us to take small steps, but dream big. In mindfulness, we look at what we’re doing now — and how it fits with our values and who we are. My mistake with my first class was to imagine 30 people and me immediately being a Tiffany Cruishank/Deepak Chopra/Brene Brown combination. There is nothing wrong with mindfully setting goals: but they need to be realistic. I was too busy focusing on unrealistic expectations which took me away from the present moment situation.
So this time around, I am hoping for 3 students. My marketing has been better, and my tribe is growing thanks to my wonderful marketing lead Mel. My intention for the class has been recalibrated to giving the people of Pembury a time of relaxation, mindfulness and coming back to self.
Lots of love to entrepreneurs and teachers everywhere xx