4 Ways To Be More Awake At Work

By Tyler Gage, author of Fully Alive: Using the Amazon to Live Your Mission in Business & Life, out now on Simon & Schuster

As an entrepreneur whose business sells caffeinated products, talking about ways to be awake without caffeine isn’t something I get to do too often. However, the tools and practices I learned while living in the Amazon and have adapted to my life as an entrepreneur are the foundational ways I feel more alive, more alert and more connected to the deeper parts of myself throughout my professional pursuits.

I wrote “Fully Alive: Using the Lessons of the Amazon To Live Your Mission in Business & Life” to reveal powerful lessons and tools, from both the Amazon and the urban jungle, about how to grow toward and beyond our personal edges, no matter our circumstances.

Here are three tools I’ve adapted and use to bring deeper parts of myself to my professional pursuits, and feel more engaged with my work:

Find Strength in Vulnerability

Especially in the world of business, vulnerability is usually considered a curse, but this misperception can be quite disempowering. We often tend to hide or deny our weaknesses and vulnerabilities, thereby creating a blind spot that actually makes you weak. Instead of avoiding and pretending like we don’t have weaknesses or we don’t lack information, we can proactively admit our limitations, learn what we don’t know, and invite support, which we always need in one way or another.

I’ve become a huge fan of taking the time to free form write in my journal all of things I’m afraid of around work – “If this contract doesn’t go through I’m screwed, I’m afraid we’ll run out of money, etc. etc.” This practice helps me be in a healthy relationship with the inescapable terror that comes along with trying to start, run or grow a business, and honors it rather than shames it.  Further, I got in the habit of adding two important sections to our investor newsletters at Runa: “What’s Not Working” and “How You Can Help.” Ironically, we found that we were able to build more trust with our investors by being honest about our mistakes and inviting their support.

 

Practice Gratitude

Giving and receiving gratitude is one of the most universally touching aspects of life, and finding creative ways to express appreciation in a professional context can be transformative.

When leading meetings, I’ve found that starting with “popcorn appreciations” can be an incredibly effective way to coalesce the group.

One team member starts by relating a “High” (something good that is happening in their personal life, NOT related to work), and a “Low” (something challenging in their personal life). That person then chooses another team member in the circle and recognizes him/her for some way that he or she recently made a special contribution to the team. The person who was recognized relates his/her own High and Low, and then recognizes someone else. We continue until the circle gets completed and everyone has been recognized. The tone of positivity, support, and shared humanity that results from this simple practice is always palpable.

Changing up routines and leaning in to the unusual and the unexpected at work can keep your creative cylinders firing, bring more excitement to seemingly dull tasks, and keep your access to deeper creativity and inspiration alive.

 

Challenge Your Routine

Changing up routines and leaning in to the unusual and the unexpected at work can keep your creative cylinders firing, bring more excitement to seemingly dull tasks, and keep your access to deeper creativity and inspiration alive.

In my personal routine, I like shaking up the monotonous activity of brushing my teeth with a range of weird twists from using my left hand, to attempting to sing at the same time – anything to make me more present.

At work, I often employ a technique I used to learn to lucid dream. Every few hours you simply ask yourself if you’re dreaming or awake, and take the time to analyze your environment and your feelings more closely to deduce if you’re asleep or awake.

We’ve even tried to build unsettling practices into our organization at Runa. Historically, we’ve had an annual tradition of taking our entire company in Ecuador white water rafting … at midnight! Through this unusual (and borderline dangerous) activity we activate a heightened state of awareness that always bring more connection and solidity to the team.

 

Tap Intuitive Insight

The starting point has to be thorough research, analysis, calculation, and debate (within a team context). While, yes, there is inevitably some “magical” leap that must be made in a tough decision-making process, you have to first narrow the gap as much as possible. Nothing can substitute for it. Google CEO Larry Page says “I’ve learned that your intuition about things you don’t know that much about isn’t very good.”

After all the analysis has been done, a decision still must be made. When charting new territory on the business front, it’s rare to have enough information where the decision is cut-and-dried. Like the Amazon itself, difficult situations are usually “serpentine and moist,” requiring the permeable, mutable power of your intuitive faculties to feel into it. (Yes, I did just recommend “feeling” as an effective tool for making “business” decisions. I know it sounds “out there,” but it works.)

I’ve found value in a range of archaic methodologies for tapping into deeper, subtler layers of a situation when looking for guidance. From coca leaf readings (similar to tea leaf readings in Asia) to the I Ching (the ancient Chinese book of divination) to tarot cards, I’ve come to appreciate the way these tools help me see the effects of how my approach, mind-set, and underlying motivations are impacting the situation at hand.

Rather than going to some third party who has some special power to interpret the coca leaves or an I Ching throw, the key for me is to push myself to use these tools myself and challenge my own ability to find useful reflections in what they are saying. I never use them to look for definite answers or try to “see the future” but purely to get a deeper sense of how to act with the most alignment in any given situation.

 

Tyler Gage is the author of Fully Alive: Using the Amazon to Live Your Mission in Business & Life and Co-Founder of Runa. A Forbes 30 Under 30 Entrepreneur, Tyler has spent the last 12 years studying with indigenous elders in the Amazon rainforest and has applied these teachings to build one of the fastest growing beverage companies in the country.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest post are those of the authors alone and do not represent those of CBS Small Business Pulse or the CBS Corporation. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are verified solely by the authors.

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