Leadership Learnings from Taiji, Part III
Leading with power in every punch. That’s what Master Chen Ying Jun exemplifies when he demonstrates the ‘form’. He creates every movement, slow or fast, soft or explosive, from his centre (in Chinese: the ‘Dantjen’). At all times, he is connected to his centre through his feet, firmly rooted to the floor, while fully aware of the world outside as he steps this or that direction, his eyes following his hands and looking where he’s going. Watching him reminded me of the co-active® leader’s dance between the Leader Within and our leadership in the world. This is the third of 3 blogs on my leadership learnings from a Taiji weekend.
Cultivating your leadership power
As a leader, you are most powerful when you connect to your calm, clear, compassionate, confident and creative centre.
It is when you’re triggered, that you lose your centre and with it your powerful presence. That’s when you can merely react to what happens around you rather than shaping and influencing it.
To cultivate your power within, you need to do two things:
1) We need to become ever more self-aware. Our path to self-awareness is paved by questions:
– Who am I?
– What is my centre, my power?
– What nudges me out of balance?
– How can I effectively recover back to my powerful, calm, centred Self?
2) We need to cultivate our inner power. The path to that is practice. Lifelong practice. To cultivate our inner power, we can:
– Engage in an embodied practice like Taiji,
– Use the triggers that get us unbalanced to practice bouncing back.
Leading with Power in Every Punch
Finally, you need to be one thing: aligned. This is about your leadership stance.
Let me take you back to Taiji, to illustrate what I mean by that: Taiji masters are surprisingly strong, because their stance is always one of alignment. They are firmly grounded to the floor with one or both feet. And they only step forward once they feel the connection between that grounded foot and their centre. (Try it: If you pay attention, you can feel your abdomen as you stand on the ground in alignment, raise one leg and step forward.)
The good news is that you don’t need to be a master or practice 8 hours a day. I will never be a master, not in this life, nor in the next. But once I find an aligned stance, it is harder for anyone to push me out of balance. Once my feet are grounded to the floor and I am aligned so that my feet’s strength can travel through my legs and strengthen my centre, I have a powerful stance. What is true in Taiji, also holds for leadership. It’s life long learning, and few of us will ever be masters, but nothing stops us from being masterful in the moment.
The power is in the alignment
In leadership terms, whenever you align your intention and your behaviour with your purpose and values, you have a strong stance as a leader. That gives you the power to enrol others.
And that is leadership with power in every punch!