EPISODE 4. BREAKING FREE FROM THE BURNOUT SOCIAL NORM

Estela: Hi everyone, welcome to Freedom Experience. It’s great to have Jonas with us who is originally from Sweden but has been living Bali for the last few years. He offers amazing resources and tools on how to do business differently. “Turn Work Into Yoga,” is a workshop he offers through his Conscious Business Community. Can you start with telling us a little bit about your background?

Jonas: I went to fancy business schools where I majored in brand strategy and growth strategy for business. I was working in that field for many years. There’s a path that gives you consequences, one is that you make a lot of money and you get some kind of fame or recognition when you do good. Another result of that is stress. It turns out that’s stress is the absolute biggest and fastest growing trend in humanity right now. I put a lot of pressure on myself and became stressed. Personally, I got quite lucky because when I was quite young I got a metaphorical punch in my face and today we call it burned out. I didn’t even know there was a name for it back then. I couldn’t do anything for a while.

It was a great epiphany for me to understand that really I was a failure – I couldn’t do what other people do. I thought there must be something wrong with me, of course, since I got burned out doing what everyone else is doing around me.

I had to ask myself again am I really a failure? I think that came as the first realization is that I’m a failure and I couldn’t do it. I’m a complete waste of space and a meaningless person because I can’t build businesses anymore. I just didn’t feel like it. After that, there came the second wave of realization that said no I wasn’t a failure, these were really valuable experiences. I did it according to “the book,” the Western Paradigm, an old paradigm of doing businesses and experienced the consequences from it. I looked around and saw that there are so many other people doing the same thing. They were stressed out and feeling so much pressure. Today, being burned out is one of the major diseases in society.

It’s a natural thing to have a belief system that runs us and then creates the same result it dictates. Since then, a lot of my job has been to regain some kind of meaningfulness, to be creative, and share something of value with humanity. Business is not a bad thing, but the way we do it can be absolutely meaningless for other people.

So that is my journey to coming back to business but doing it in a completely different way. A way that’s  joyous, effortless, maybe even pleasurable...

Estela: Wow! Doing business that is joyful, effortless, and pleasurable! Tell us about when you made the transition to doing business differently, what aspects of your life did you change?

Jonas: Well, I think the first thing that had to shift was the meaning behind why I was running a business. Today, the definition of business is pretty much that if you make a profit, then it’s a business. Does it have to be like that? My answer is no, you can roll a business instead of running a business and you can do it without the consideration of money. That doesn’t have to be the sole purpose of doing it. If you change the purpose of why you’re doing something then, absolutely everything shifts.

When I started to roll a more conscious business I found that so many beautiful people with a purpose-driven business, whether they were a yoga teacher, raw food chef, social entrepreneur, NGOs, were still stressed out. This is because we are using the same tool kit that we were brought up with, how to achieve more and perform better. I did the same thing. I changed my purpose to introduce new kind of leadership into the world but after a couple of years, I still felt like I was stressing. I felt pressured to make more money. I had attracted a lot of people into my life. I was certifying leaders into this new kind of leadership but still found myself in the same inner environment that I was in a couple of years ago. I felt stressed and no longer passionate.  I just had to admit that this is not what I longed for. The outside changed but on the inside I still felt the same way. It became meaningless and you could say I lost my integrity.

It was one of those milestones when I noticed that there was something else that I had to shift other than just the outside, like what I was doing. For example, today in Bali there’s so many people coming there who changed what they do and come for these beautiful coworking places. It doesn’t matter that there’s a beach right there, they are still sitting in front of a computer stressed out. They changed their outer environment and they’re Digital Nomads but they are still experiencing the same inner environment.

The easy part is helping to support people to do good as a brand strategist. I’ve done that for so many years. The tricky part is HOW we do business. That’s what I’d like to infuse in the world of work or business today that it’s how we do it that matters. It doesn’t matter if we are famous or have a lot of money if we didn’t enjoy it. If it’s just a lot of pressure and stress, it’s not worth it. None of us want to spend a life like that. Let’s invite people to aim higher. What are the possibilities for human life on planet earth other than run in this rat race, end up with money in a bank account, and a fancy car outside then die?

Estela: So, what are the other possibilities? Can you explain this new paradigm of doing business?

Jonas:  Good question. It’s easy to say say things like business can be effortless, joyful, and deeply meaningful but it’s only been the last five years that rolling a business has been those things for me. In the past, there has been separation between with my spiritual journey or my personal development and my work or business. That’s how it used to be where maybe I do yoga or meditate and then return to work. Now, it is the same, it’s been one movement.

What else is possible? I don’t know I’m on the journey myself. We’ve separated the creative side of ourselves. We separate work from spirituality, people go to church and then they go to work. There is no cohesion between the two.

Then there’s relationships that are in our private life. So who I am at work is not who I am at home and who I am at home has nothing to do with work. Admit this, when you have a great sex life things go increasingly well in your work, isint?

Estela: My work and personal life are very much tied together so maybe I’m not the best example....Haha.

Jonas: When I have a great sex life, things flow so elegantly in my creative life. The opposite is true for me as well, if my work life flows elegantly my relationships are more meaningful and amazing. It is the same for the spiritual journey where we search for ourselves, maybe we improve ourselves, and that benefits our work and our relationships. I found that they are not separated, they are one movement. It’s when we separate these things that struggles come up. We are one person when we go to work and then another when we go to yoga.

Estela: Is it about experiencing our lives in a holistic way? What would be that one insight that you could give to people to experience the wholeness of life and that effortless flow?

Jonas: Yes, let me give an example from this book that I am writing called “Turn Work Into Yoga,” and that is basically gaining some knowledge from what we do in a Yoga Shala. It’s just a very simple comparison. In Hatha Yoga, you do an asana or pose and each time you do it, it becomes more and more effortless. It can be really tricky the first time. Maybe you didn’t want to go back to class but the more you do go back, the more it becomes an energetic experience. When we step into our workplace we experience the opposite. We become good at something, do it more and more and it becomes more strenuous. Many people get sick and tired of work. So it shows us the different results on the inside of doing a lot of things in Yoga Shala versus doing a lot of things in general. That dictates the result we get on the outside as well. That’s the big thing and where we can find the most leverage. I can’t tell you how many famous or successful yoga teachers I coached who still feel stressed out. It’s not because they don’t know yoga, they know it very well, but they do business in the same way they used to do.

The concrete tip I can give to you is to change or find  your inner, deeper why. Try thinking of another reason to do business besides the money. Each of us are a unique gift, you are unique, that thumbprint that you have has never existed before and will never exist. So that’s something unique about you. When you step into the room, you bring in something unique to the room. Dive deeper into that and realize that competition cannot exist, in this universe at least.

The other thing is to find a higher purpose. It may sound a bit pretentious like everyone has to save the world, but I don’t mean that. We can be doing the same work we do today, but if you find another purpose besides I have to make money then it shifts a lot. Dive into those two things and slowly the inner why will shift by itself. Really cultivate and nurture those different aspects of yourself. Spend time and attention on what your unique gift and higher purpose of life is.

There is another thing you can do. Question every “should” that comes up. Everytime that word comes up, it induces stress. Stop and question the shoulds because most likely they are not true.  

Estela: That’s something that I experienced a lot.  I’m actually experimenting with these kinds of emotions. When stress comes up I close my computer and take a break. I take time to really think about if it’s actually something I absolutely have to do or if I’m just thinking that I need to do it. As I take a break, many times problems are solved or things get sorted. It’s a bit freaky at the beginning because the logical mind doesn’t come up with the answer, but it does work. It’s really interesting that you mentioned that, Jonas.

Jonas: That is the most concrete thing. So take that stress and turn it into your most useful tool like you did. If it’s there it’s not an encouragement to do more or faster. It’s the opposite and you need to stop so you can do it in a much better way. That’s the most tangible thing we all can work with regardless of where we are or what work we may have. If stress is coming up, know that it can be done in a better way.

Estela: Thank you so much Jonas, that’s really valuable and insightful!

Jonas: Very welcome. Thank you for having me here.

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