What I Learned At Lululemon's "The Immersion"

This past week I was one of the fortunate 50 or so “influencers” invited to the first ever The Immersion, a five-day experience hosted and paid for by Lululemon that included plenty of yoga, meditation and leadership development.

It was an incredible experience on so many levels (who knew I could do handstands?!), and I’m sure it will have a profound effect on me for a long time to come.

This being By The Bootstraps, I thought I’d take a minute to reflect on some of the things I learned about entrepreneurship while I was there.  The attendees of The Immersion were all creative people testing what’s possible in their field, and perhaps because of that, many of the people I met were entrepreneurs, including those who had their own dance companies, fitness studios, nutritional start-ups, fitness media outlets, meditation events, creative agencies, farms, wellness practices and non-profits, as well as plenty of authors with their own successful books, websites or both...

From the minute our “five-day moment” kicked off, you could sense it was an enlightened community.  People cared a great deal about health, about spirituality, about the earth and our environment, and maybe most of all, about other people.  We practiced yoga together (led by yoga master, author and founder of the Baptiste Institute, Baron Baptiste, and motivational speaker, life coach and author, Gabrielle Bernstein), meditated together, ate together, danced together and definitely had some “big talks” together.  I left feeling inspired and connected and thought I’d share some of the traits I noticed were common to the many good folks I met.

Curiosity – Entering an environment where you know no one (and Lululemon gave us no agenda or attendee list in advance) can be daunting, especially if you’re not Type A.  But from the very start I noticed that everyone was open and genuine.  In fact, not having an agenda or attendee list allowed us to see each other as people first (as opposed to our titles or accomplishments) and within the first twenty minutes I’d already made three new friends.  I think this curiosity and openness allows entrepreneurs to find new insights, which are always the spark of inspiration and innovation.

Passion – Joseph Campbell said that life is about finding our bliss, and the people I met at the Immersion knew this to be true.  Whether they were passionate about music or conservation, justice or wellness, nutrition or art, they championed their beliefs and ideas with a fire in their belly (aided, I’m sure, by the “breath of fire” that we practiced).  Everyone had something; a cause they believed in, a product they knew could help people, or a practice they’d devoted their life to; and they all shared a strong desire to connect with people through the work they were doing.  Over lunch one day, one person I met said, “Life is one big transformation.” If that’s true, then I think passion helps give us resolve when the transformation presents challenges. 

Being Grounded – The CEO of one successful company told me he tells his employees at the office, “If you can’t remember the last time you did dishes, it’s time to do the dishes.” I know for a fact this person cares a great deal about spending his time wisely but he also recognizes the power in being humble, in being part of a team and in making sure everyone feels they have a right to be there.  At The Immersion, this grounded attitude was the rule, not the exception.  When you leave your ego at the door, you become accessible and like-able in so many ways, and from a leadership perspective, nothing could be more important.

Optimism – Sure, practicing yoga all day and eating organic food can leave anyone “feeling Zen.” However, this was more than that.  Over the entire event I don’t think I heard a negative word uttered.  And although there were sessions every day from morning to night that could often be physically and emotionally demanding, everyone showed up with a positive attitude, both willing to work and willing to share.  Starting and growing a business will test your limits.  Believing you can achieve success will help you get through your challenges and discover what’s possible.

A Sense of Humor – As much yoga as we practiced and as many “big talks” as we had, every night ended with cranked-up beats, a dance party and a lot of laughs.  This says a lot about the path of the entrepreneur: Sure, success requires determination and grit, but not at the expense of your joy.  I’ve found the best things in life tend to happen when I’m not forcing them. Our yoga teacher, Baron Baptiste, gave us a word that stuck with me: Santosha.  It means content, but curious.  For me, this idea implies that the root of discovering what’s possible is your contentment, acceptance, and even happiness with the way things are.

Overall, The Immersion was an incredible experience that I know will have a lasting impact on me.  It was also a reminder that to be successful as an entrepreneur, I need to remember to give myself the time and space to recharge, get inspired and discover new perspectives.  At the opening reception Gabby told us all that over the course of the event we should take some time to “lean back.”  With all the tasks a growing business (and a family!) requires, I’m often so focused on making things happen that I forget to “lean back” and give myself the space needed for growth.  But every time I do, I discover fresh ideas and renewed energy, which is just the thing a growing business needs.