Wisdom//

Focus on What You Can Control and Let the Rest Go

WeWork India chief Ryan Bennett believes in the Greek philosophy of stoicism that has taught him to concentrate on his actions.

Ryan Bennett Chief WeWork Officer, WeWork India, is really into fitness. He tells Thrive Global India that running helps him unplug and he finds it akin to meditation. Bennett has been into sales and client servicing in the hospitality and banking space for a very long time. He is an avid advocate about education and has co-founded The FAB for Life Foundation that awards college scholarships to New York City special education students. Excerpts from an interview:

Thrive Global India: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?

Ryan Bennett: After waking up, I immediately do 50 push-ups and 15 squats. This gets the blood flowing throughout my body and helps to wake up my mind as well.

TGI: How do you unplug and recharge?

RB: The best way for me to unplug is through running. I’ve competed in numerous marathons and ultramarathons across the world. The rhythmic beating of my feet against the earth puts me into a meditative trance, similar to what others experience when they do yoga or meditation. I have run continuously for hours that felt like minutes, because of the power of this meditation. However, that doesn’t happen all the time as it might sound. There have been times when I’ve hurt and curse myself for agreeing to run such long distances. But when you get into that flow, there is nothing better.

TGI: What’s your favourite well-being tip?

RB: Reading stoicism over the past few years has been one of the biggest contributors to my well-being. Stoicism is an ancient Greek philosophy that teaches many things, but the most important thing I have learned is to “focus on what you can control”, and let everything else go. Little things that happen throughout the day, like a rude person at a restaurant, or really bad traffic on the way home from work, are out of our control, and letting your emotions be impacted by things that you have no control over can bring negative energy into your life. Don’t lose sleep over things you can’t control, but for the things that you can control, bring your best self to impact those things every day. My locus of control is on my actions only and not what others do. This helps me stay focused.

TGI: Tell us about your relationship with your phone.

RB: My phone and I are probably too close to be honest. As I’m on the go most days, I’m constantly checking emails and responding to daily questions that need decisions. I’ve focused on lowering my usage of social media so it doesn’t become a time suck. Human beings are habitual creatures, so I try to create small daily habits that add up to a big difference, like keeping my phone face down during meetings so it’s doesn’t become a distraction.

TGI: How do you deal with negativity?

RB: The thing that I’m most proud of is the fact that I don’t have one person in my personal life that brings negative energy to me. Because life is too short for people bringing you down. I choose to surround myself with authentic, positive people who strive for happiness in their own lives, and bring that passion into their personal relationships.

The same thing goes for work. Building a great work environment is about finding people that believe in a singular mission and the same core values. People who don’t believe, or live those core values on a daily basis can bring down the culture of an organisation. So finding those positive people that are dedicated to the organisation’s mission is one of the key determinants of a business’ success.

TGI: What would you do on an ideal day?

RB: An ideal day for me would be spent mostly outdoors in the mountains. It would start with a morning run, move to an afternoon hike, and end with a barbecue dinner and bonfire with friends and family. It’s a great way of disconnecting from the digital world or otherwise, and works like a charm for me to connect with myself.

TGI: How do you incorporate well-being into your daily life?

RB: A lot of incorporating well-being into your daily life comes down to how much you invest in relationships across the spectrum of your life: your relationship with your body and your mind, and your relationship with colleagues, family and friends. It’s not easy to balance all of these, and I have my challenges doing so, as many people have. But on a weekly basis, I analyse where I am with this goal. Have I spoken to the people I care about the most recently? Am I spending time and investing in relationships at work? Am I taking time for myself away from the daily grind to ensure I have the physical and mental health to do all of the things I need to do? If any of those answers are a “no”, I work on a plan to fix the imbalance.

TGI: What benefit do these habits have on your ability to perform?

RB: When you are giving each part of your life the right amount of time and energy, you end up being successful across all of them. One of the best lessons I learned about success is: if you are extremely successful at work, but you’re not giving your kids the time they deserve, that’s not success. If you’re extremely successful at work, but the stress is killing you and you are out of shape and not taking care of your body, that’s not success. The true measurement of success is when you are successful across your work, your family, your friends, and your physical and mental state. I am far from cracking this level of success, but I’m continually striving towards it.

TGI: What do you look for in a company to work for?

RB: The most important thing when looking for a job is to join a company where your core values as a person align well with those of the business. Besides loving the day to day of my job at WeWork, what keeps me so committed to the brand after six years is a deep connection with the company’s mission of helping our members create a life, not just a living. If you have a deep connection with the mission of the company, it enables you to get through the tough days of a fledgling business, because you have such a deep passion for the end goal of each day’s work.

Want to share your story of how you thrive? Write to us at editorial.india@thriveglobal.com

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- Marcus Aurelius

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