Conversation with Owen Satterley
We all want our business to be successful - but how can you operate at peak performance and achieve business success without burning out?
This comes up often in conversations with my students and it is possible to do both: achieve success and not burn out in the process.
Owen Satterley is here to share his tips after working with world champion athletes, top-level executives, and entrepreneurs. Besides personal coaching work, Owen has also developed wellbeing programs for many different types of companies - from swanky London law firms to F1 world champions. And now he’s here today to share these insights with you!
It doesn’t matter what your title is - success comes down to just a few things: What we define success as in our life and in our business, and the fact that we are human and that means we are creatures of habit and we need to understand our human behaviors to best optimize our performance.
No matter what performance we are talking about, it comes down to motivation and behavior.
Get ready to take notes and take action because you will be fueled up after this one!
Yoga for peak performance
Yoga is incredibly helpful for people who are looking for “peak performance” (executives, athletes, entrepreneurs, and others).
But people often have misconceptions of what they think meditation and mindfulness is or have “tried yoga and it didn’t work." People seem to think that you need to be sitting on a cushion on a silent room, and it's harder for them to comprehend the real-world application of mindfulness practice. For example, so many people are distracted by what they should be doing and comparing themselves to other people's success. If you can use your breath as an anchor during these times and bring yourself back to the present moment, that's yoga in practice.
"We just need our head to be where our feet are and be present in the moment. That's the real world application of meditation." - Owen Satterley
**This was also a podcast episode (episode #119). Use the player below if you'd prefer to listen to this message.
Comparison is the thief of joy
When we see other people doing certain things online and having success, it's so easy to compare ourselves. This competition with others and comparison can be toxic.
Comparison is the thief of joy because we end up focusing on the outcome rather than the process.
If you think "I'll be happy when I've lost 20 pounds" or "I'll be happy when I have ten thousand followers," you're doing yourself a disservice because if/when you get to that point, your happiness level won't change.
"The science of happiness shows that when we put all of our time and energy into acquiring things rather than experiences, we end up unfulfilled. I don't think you can have true success without happiness and fulfillment. It's really empty." - Owen Satterley
What sits underneath it all is gratitude for own health and the fact that we have the ability and freedom to run our own business. There's a huge responsibility that comes with this freedom, but that level of risk can also be incredibly motivating.
"You'll never be happier than you are grateful." - Owen Satterley
Be present with what you're doing and don't worry too much about what's going to happen later down the road. These things probably don't lie within your control, anyway. Share your content, share your teachings, be open to feedback, narrow your niche down and figure out what problem you're trying to solve, and then just go to work.
Lessons about failure from Formula1 Engineers
The engineers for F1 have to get really creative every time the regulations change about what an engine is allowed to do or how many times they are allowed to upgrade certain parts in the technology.
"You need to fail fast. The timeline on getting a new engine out every season is really tight. They fail hard and fast, but failure is part of the process. It's really refreshing to see these guys just go at it." - Owen Satterley
Fail fast - so you can learn and tweak along the way.
“It’s my job to fail fast so I can be a better coach to the people who are listening to this podcast, the people in my membership, the people who are paying me to help them build their business.” - Amanda McKinney
Failure is just part of the process and it's not necessarily a bad thing, but you have to understand why you failed or you will repeat the same failure again and again. It's so important to reflect on what just happened.
A few questions to help with the reflective process:
Why did it happen?
How did I feel when I was doing it?
Can I prevent it from happening again?
In Formula1, they hold "fault meetings" when something goes wrong. They get together and strip it apart and try to reverse engineer the failure. It might be down to the shape of a new component, the material it was made of, or how it was machined. They look into "why did this happen" with incredible detail so they can prevent the failure from happening again.
As yoga business owners, we can learn from this! We can work really hard on something, whether it's a piece of content or a class offering, and it doesn't do well - or it "fails." And then other times we have great success, whether it's an offering selling out or a piece of content that gets a lot of engagement. Sometimes there's no rhyme or reason behind this, but it's so important to reflect and understand why certain things are popular and why others aren't.
Bottom line: Don’t forget to ask “why did this work” or "why didn't this work" so you can reproduce that result again!
Peak performance as a yoga entrepreneur
"The hardest person to lead is yourself." - Owen Satterley
When it comes to leading or giving advice to others, we're able to step back, take a look at the big picture, and give intelligent advice. But when it comes to our own business, this can be challenging because we're so emotionally invested.
As an entrepreneur, every day is different and this can be overwhelming. Implementing structure into your day and business can be hugely helpful. However, it takes time to figure out what structure works for you (when it comes to systems and routines for your day).
The concept of cognitive gearing
When you're structuring your day, consider when you have the most mental energy to work. Are you a morning person? An evening person? Do you have the most energy in the afternoon?
After years of trying different things, I know now that I am absolutely a morning person. I wake up early excited to started the day! What I've learned this means is that I can't be doing important creative projects around mid-day. Around 2:00pm or 3:00pm, I know that's when I need to stop working or have a conversation with someone.
But it doesn't matter what I'm doing or what other people are doing. What works for other people may not work for you. And sometimes we have to find that out by doing it "wrong."
When it comes to cognitive gearing, we have high, middle and low gear tasks.
High gear: These are the jobs that require 100% focus when you want to get into deep work. This is work that you would put your phone on airplane mode.
Middle gear: These are mainly your admin tasks. Checking your emails, data, spreadsheets, etc. These you could actually multi-task.
Low gear: These are your restorative activities like taking a walk, doing some yoga or a workout, taking a break to talk to a friend. These are tasks that will reenergize and revive you.
The idea is that you want to schedule your high gear tasks in the time of day when you feel your best. Remember, you're your own boss! You can design your day to fit what works best for you. Plan ahead. If you feel like you don't have full control of your schedule, there are still ways to control pockets of time. Find what pockets of time that you can work best.
If you are working a full time job in addition to running your yoga business, or you have kids, or some other life situation that you feel is holding you back - remember that we make time for what we find valuable.
I say this with love, but a lot of what I hear are excuses. It feels real. It feels like "I can't," and I get that. But we have time for whatever we make a priority.
“Business and 'busyness' are not the same thing.” - Owen Satterley
How to get what you really want in your yoga business
Follow these tips to make progress toward your goal, no matter what your situation in life is.
1. Remember that we're just seeing the highlights
Remember that we see the selected highlights of people's work on social media. We don't see the process and the hard work it takes to get to that point. Don't let yourself get discouraged by comparing yourself to what others choose to show.
2. Start small! It adds up.
Don't think you have to devote hours and hours to your goal, especially if it's still a side business for you. Start small. It's just about slowly chipping away at the goal. We have a tendency set goals that are way too big. We think it has to be this "all or nothing" approach, and it's really unhelpful. It doesn't have to be that way. We can start incredibly small with tiny steps!
“We can be incredibly productive in thirty minutes.” - Owen Satterley
Set aside a small chunk of time - for example, twenty or thirty minutes. We can get so much done in just thirty minutes if you put your phone on airplane mode and give yourself uninterrupted time to focus. Over time, this adds up and can lead to wonderful progress.
For example, think about your yoga practice. Sometimes you may not have time to do a full hour or 90-minute practice daily. But if you spend 5 minutes a day to do a few rounds of sun salutations, then the compound effect over time is huge!
3. Focus on what you DID do!
Focus on what you did get done, not what you didn’t get done. There will always be more to do. If you didn't check off every single thing on your to-do list, that's okay! You can continue to chip away at your goal tomorrow.
"Enough is enough." - Amanda McKinney
4. Remember you're doing something unconventional
"Enjoy the process. Ultimately, when people choose to leave full-time employment, they do it because they've got a passion for something and they realize they can turn it into a vocation and be paid for it. This is amazingly liberating. It bucks the trend in terms of conventionalism. And we just get talked down from it." - Owen Satterley
Recognize that you’re doing something unconventional and so you might have others try and talk you out of it. And not only that, but you have to watch your own thoughts which might also be trying to talk you out of it.
"I've socially and professionally made a fool of myself enough times that I just don't care anymore." - Owen Satterley
5. Niche down!
People think that we need to cater to everyone, but then you end up not pleasing anyone. Pick our your niche and go narrow. When you carve out a narrow niche, then there's no competition. You monopolize the market!
Don’t be competitive - just be you! You're the only YOU. Use your skillset, your talent, your experiences to chip away at something that is 100% you.
Are you a list maker? You might be missing a step!
"Anyone that is successful is a list maker, period. But we get list-making so wrong." - Owen Satterley
Making this list certainly helps, but it's just the first step in the process. When we make a list, we tend to put the easiest tasks at the top so we can cross them off. The dopamine hit we get from checking off tasks is powerful. But when you get the end of the day, you look back and realize you've done nothing of true impact.
Once you first make your list, re-order them in terms of importance. Then you can better see what you absolutely need to get done today.
Consider: Which jobs take the least amount of time for the most amount of return in investment?
Time and energy are finite resources. You can't make anymore time. When we invest time and say "yes" to something, we ultimately have to say "no" to other things.
One of the biggest superpowers we can have as entrepreneurs is deciding what to neglect and say "no" to. Give yourself permission to say "that's not worth my time" or "there's no return in investment for me so I'm going to say no."
"Ultimately, our time is our most precious commodity and we need to think of it like we're investing it rather than just pouring it down the drain every day." - Owen Satterley
Finally, block your time or "time box" your tasks. Give yourself a certain amount of time with a hard and fast stop. This helps with flow state and a lot of other things.
I have learned how long a task takes because I've tracked my time for four years now, and now I live and breathe by those deadlines of time blocking. If I give myself all day to do something, I will take all day.
"Understanding my time - meaning tracking my time and time blocking my tasks - is single-handedly the best tool I have as an entrepreneur." - Amanda McKinney
Find the system that works for YOU!
"We have to understand that we can’t sprint a marathon." - Owen Satterley
Running a business is a marathon and we think we can sprint our way through it, like continuously working at high intensity all day. And we just can't.
"We can architect our environment in a way that sets us up for high performance." - Owen Satterley
Consider a balance of the following to set yourself up for high performance as a yoga entrepreneur:
Make sure you have access to natural light and fresh air
Stand and move around
Figuring these things out is all part of the process!
Ask yourself: Who are you trying to be? Not who do you think you ought to be, but who you truly want to be? Who is the ideal version of yourself?
Remember, fear and excitement often present themselves the same way. Ride the wave. As long as the trajectory is upwards, it just doesn't matter.
“Be better today than you were yesterday and better tomorrow than you are today.” - Owen Satterley
Your next step
Your next step is to think about what success means for you. What does “peak performance” mean for you in your life?
This takes time, so I want you to write down what immediately came to mind but then keep adding to that list. And all the while, ask “why is that on my list,” too.
Then make sure you tune in to the podcast next week because I'm diving deeper into success and what it truly means.
Until next time, give yourself permission to reach your peak performance and grace along the way.
"We just need our head to be where our feet are and be present in the moment. That's the real world application of meditation." - Owen Satterley
Tristan Katz (they/them) is a writer, educator, and digital strategist specializing in business and marketing coaching-consulting, web and graphic design. Based on the ancestral land of the Cowlitz and Clackamas peoples, now known as Portland, OR, Tristan teaches workshops and trainings centered around queer identity and trans* awareness with an intersectional lens, along with justice-focused digital marketing strategies for yoga and wellness professionals. Through their podcast, articles, digital resources, and workshops, Tristan supports those who seek to grow their work while staying aligned with the practices of yoga, equity, diversity, and inclusivity.
Other resources mentioned
Deep Work by Cal Newport
Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg
Zero to One by Peter Thiel
Harvard Business Review Article - How it takes 25 minutes to get back into a task after being interrupted
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