Julie Rosenberg, MD, is a physician executive who has worked in a variety of leadership roles in the pharmaceutical industry. She has actively practiced yoga for more than fifteen years and has completed both 200-hour and 500-hour teacher training. Dr. Rosenberg teaches yoga primarily “beyond the mat,” helping individuals and groups to apply the principles and practice of yoga to their daily lives and to support their overall health and well-being, to achieve success, and to become more effective leaders. She lives in Connecticut and Florida. Find out more on the web at www.julierosenbergmd.com. Be sure to check out her upcoming publication, Beyond the Mat: Achieve Focus, Presence, and Enlightened Leadership Through the Principles and Practice of Yoga!
What are 3 things or experiences that bring you the greatest sense of fulfillment in life?
I was able to feel more fulfillment in life once I determined what was really important to me. Professionally, I enjoy helping people to find new avenues to support and maintain their good health. Personally, I love fitness, yoga, hiking, biking, and spending time in nature. I value spending quality time with family and friends.
What are the small things you do every day to be happy/fulfilled?
I wake up at 5:45 am daily. I hit the gym most days by 6:30 am, and I feel great after a good workout. When I don’t go to the gym, I take an early walk outdoors with my partner, and we typically go out to breakfast. This is a sacred time for us since we both have demanding jobs.
I also read each day, even if only for a short time. I believe that the brain requires “exercise” to keep it strong and healthy. In recent years, I have also been writing daily to keep myself fresh and engaged.
People often find they don’t have enough time. How do you make time for those?
There are two key things that add to the idea that we don’t have enough time. The first is multitasking. People who try to do too much at once will most often find themselves less productive. This is because multitasking is a myth. The brain cannot do two things at once. We are actually task-switching when we multitask: rather than focusing well on one thing, we divide our attention between things. We make more errors when we switch than when we do one thing at a time.
The second contributor is a lack of focus. Many of us are guilty of succumbing to environmental pressure, and we lose focus. If we can stay in the present, we will enjoy where we are and what we are doing in the here and now more—and get more done!
What health habits do you stick to no matter what?
I exercise five to six days per week, and I also do a short personal yoga and meditation practice daily. I do this because I really enjoy it and because it helps me to: 1.) Feel good, 2.) Calm my mind, 3.) Concentrate better, 4.) Focus, and 5.) Look good. This practice really supports a balanced life and a happy life. I also think that these practices support healthy aging.
What’s your best relationship tip?
Give to get. By this, I mean that we need to invest in relationships and give to others. Relationships are two-way streets. We can’t simply be takers. And what we offer needn’t be tangible, such as material gifts—it can be things like listening, support, and compassion.
You seem to balance both happiness and success. What’s your secret to being happy and productive?
I love what I do. Certainly, I don’t love everything every moment. But the sum of the various things in which I am engaged brings me a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Success does not make us happy, but I think that happiness leads to success.
What – in your opinion – is the best way to spread happiness and fulfillment to others?
Be a hero. This does not need to be on a big scale. It can mean noticing and helping a perfect stranger you encounter during your day. Small acts of kindness and compassion for others’ work can also do wonders for you.
What is a quote you live by?
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” — The Buddha
An exclusive excerpt from Dr. Julie Rosenberg’s newest publication, Beyond the Mat: Achieve Focus, Presence, and Enlightened Leadership Through the Principles and Practice of Yoga, just released on December 5th, 2017!
The word tapas is derived from the Sanskrit verb “tap,” which means to burn. Tapas has traditionally been interpreted to mean “fiery discipline,” and we use it to focus our energy, create fervor, and increase strength and confidence. Self-discipline is your ability to control your desires, emotions, impulses, and behaviors to stay focused on what needs to get done to successfully meet your goals. It is a key attribute of good leaders. Such individuals have a sense of inner calm and outer resolve. They are well organized in that they have clear objectives and priorities—whether or not their offices are cluttered—and they demonstrate willpower and determination in everything they do. This level of self-control allows them to persist in the face of difficulties and to exert a more positive, powerful influence on others.
My father had a military background, and thus, his leadership style was based on the concepts of duty, service, and self-sacrifice. He always put his family first and saved money for many years in order to allow me to complete college and medical school with limited debt. He was also a high school principal who powerfully influenced students and colleagues alike by putting them first. So, I grew up appreciating and understanding the value of self-discipline and self-sacrifice. I have come to recognize that, in large part, self-discipline has allowed me to stay the course in achieving my goals and dreams.
On a more personal, inner level, self-discipline means you act with the same leadership qualities that you consider desirable and necessary in public, even when you are alone. It is easy to attempt to deceive yourself when you’re alone and assume no one is watching. A true leader exercises self-discipline in her thoughts and actions, even when she believes no one can see her.
Many people feel they lack self-discipline in certain areas and often chalk it up to, “Well, that’s just the way I am.” We all must work within the parameters of our natural personalities, but self-discipline is essential for strong leadership: without it, you lose credibility. Think about it. August 8, 1974, Richard M. Nixon became the first American president to resign from office during impeachment proceedings and in the midst of the Watergate affair. In a farewell speech delivered from the Oval Office, he said, “By taking this action, I hope that I will have hastened the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.” On April 10, 2017, Robert Bentley, Alabama governor, resigned amid a sex scandal and series of criminal investigations. These individuals clearly lacked self-discipline. True self-discipline allows you to lead by example and go the extra mile for your company and employees.
I have struggled over the years to see myself as a leader. Using the principles of self-discipline and self-awareness—which I’ll elaborate on in the next chapter—I’ve been able to work hard on my self-development. Most leaders did not arrive there already formed; their success is a direct result of their determination to press forward through difficulties, resistance, and setbacks. Cultivating self-discipline enhances their level of confidence through a greater sense of control. They get more done in less time.
We can all practice the self-discipline needed to become great leaders. Think about the areas you feel passionate enough to make improvements—a strong desire can help you get started and stick to the changes you set out to make. Then, you can tackle areas you aren’t as sure you can succeed. Once you start to see the positive growth you’ve created with smaller goals, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll take on more difficult ones.
Soon, you’ll experience the greatest reward of all: to succeed as a leader with integrity, compassion, and a job well done.
A mentor, someone whom you trust and who is typically a more senior-ranking individual at work, allows you to share your wins and seek feedback on challenging issues so you gain experiential advice. My mentor, Liz, heard me speak during several important teleconferences. She mentioned that I constantly referred to “the leadership” when I spoke and what we as a team had to do to challenge or support them. What’s wrong with that? Well, the truth was that I was actually part of the leadership team. By excluding myself from the group in my discussions, I came across as a victim. Liz asked whether I felt like a leader, and my honest response at the time was, “Not really.” Thank goodness our conversations were confidential—what if anyone else knew my response? In many ways, I thought I still needed to achieve the most senior organizational rank to really be a leader.
I gave the situation and her feedback some thought, as her opinion was always worth listening to and considering. My attitude was actually sabotaging my career and limiting my opportunity for advancement—and I needed to change it. The quality of my leadership really mattered to me. Once I acknowledged the problem, I developed a plan to address it. I asked Liz and a few other colleagues to monitor how I spoke in subsequent meetings and to give me feedback. I wanted to know when my words and message came across with a victim mentality.
Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is not just a parable on the consequences of vanity; it has a secondary message that reinforces the sense of isolation many leaders feel: those around you are reluctant to offer direct feedback on your behavior. Unfortunately, some may even choose to criticize you behind your back. This has happened to me, and it is certainly counterproductive—for everyone. Most people can recall several traumatic episodes from their pasts where they have given or received negative feedback. These negative experiences can linger in our minds and become a source of ongoing upset and anxiety. We all have behavioral blind spots, and constructive feedback is very important for growth—we should never be afraid to ask for it directly. Feedback helps us to better understand ourselves. Without feedback, how can we understand why we do or don’t win the deal, get the promotion, or are chosen for the team? Highly successful leaders typically ask for feedback often. Rather than being fearful of feedback, they are comfortable receiving information about their behavior from their bosses, their colleagues, and their subordinates. They then typically engage in self-reflection and introspection, both critical elements for behavioral change.
My plan was to focus my thoughts on my own leadership style, change my behavior, and take ownership of it so I demonstrated true leadership qualities. During discussions, I started to listen better and tried to understand the position and perspective of the others involved in the conversation. I also worked to improve my own communication style when speaking directly with colleagues and supervisors, especially during teleconferences, when the element of body language is removed. Most importantly, I worked hard to truly believe and to internalize that I was a leader.
I still remind myself daily that I am a leader. I usually believe it.
Excerpted with permission from the new book Beyond the Mat: Achieve Focus, Presence, and Enlightened Leadership Through the Principles and Practice of Yoga by Julie Rosenberg, published by De Capo Lifelong Books, Enlightened Leadership LLC, Boston. Copyright © 2017 Julie Rosenberg.