Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tai chi in the leadership world – 2

In the previous post (Tai chi in the leadership world – 1) I've written about basics and fundamentals of the wide and profound wisdom of Tai Chi. By the end I have indicated some ways to use it in leadership. In this post I would like to expose some essentials of Tai Chi that may be an advantage also in leadership.

Body energy redirectingTo empirically learn so-called internal martial art aspects of Tai Chi one begins with Tui shou or pushing hands (see post: Pushing hands and Virtue). Pushing hands is a distinctive Tai Chi practice very similar to Chi shou (sticking hands) used in Wing Chun (see post: Wing Chun basics and Wing Chun and leadership). The latter is more combative while pushing hands is less aggressive and more oriented to using opponent’s energy. With pushing hands the endurance needed in a contest is developed. The method softens stances, movements, and stiffness of a whole body. You need to be perceptive of your partner. Pushing hands diminish your natural instinct of resisting force with force enabling to correctly respond to the external stimuli: your body simply yields to force and redirects it. It is a Yin and Yang or strong and soft principle that governs pushing hands. With age we tend to become inflexible and our reactions jerky, as often obvious when (if) we slip and plunge to the floor. Kids are still much more natural in the same situations just collapse softly or roll, like usually lucky drunk person.

Pushing hands method is extremely good for a person with a big ego too (see post: Ego and Leadership) as it covers our senses and therefore conceals our reactions. A person should be very relaxed, stable in the proper stance that allows moving back and front, left and right, up and down. All thoughts should be wiped and nothing expected. When opponent’s action comes, you react naturally.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tai chi in the leadership world -1

In my post Tai Chi Quan Leadership I have given you some historical information and points to be used in leadership process from Tai Chi. In this and the next post I’d like to share with you some of my experiences and knowledge that I have gained by practicing Tai Chi. I will conclude with another set of views on how to transfer them to leadership.
Yoga is known as a still meditation technique as opposed to Tai Chi, which is a moving one. As opposite to India where food and temperatures could allow yoga Tai Chi in China evolved differently but with the deep, profound and meaningful theory.

Tai-chi-exercise-parkMany of you think of Tai Chi as an exercise normally practiced by older people. You have probably seen it as such practiced in Chinese parks. It looks so benevolent and an easy practice and is probably a reason why it rarely attracts young people to begin practicing it. Very few people see Tai Chi as a martial art that can be very efficiently used to protect life. Some blame for it can be put on numerous schools where Tai Chi is practiced just as a type of coordinated movements with health improvement in mind. It is a type of Tai Chi learning by practicing form(s) only. Bare hand practice is just one of various aspects of Tai Chi. Still available practice may use sword, saber, spear and staff, up to ball, and ruler. It is also true that some of training with those tools is not worldwide spread as there are very few masters who still know and practice them.

Tai Chi thirteen techniquesThe bare handed Tai Chi is a set of eight hand movements and five leg movements. Hence it is sometimes called the thirteen techniques. The eight fundamental Tai Chi hand movements are: warding off, rolling back, pressing, pushing, spreading, taking, elbowing, and leaning.  The five fundamental leg movements are: moving forward, moving back, moving to the left, moving to the right, and remaining in the center.

Tai Chi and all Chinese martial arts are not something that a person could grab instantaneously. They are meant as a lifelong learning and developing and definitely not something to grasp or understand immediately or even learn in the first hour. It took me more than ten years to do the form alone. I still may need a suggestion or external help.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Observer’s influence and Leadership

If asked whether you like physics most or many of you would probably answer “no”.

In next few paragraphs I would like to show you that it is quite an interesting field that can be used and applied in real life and definitively in leadership too. I will begin with a kind of  ‘strange’ theory that demonstrates “observer’s influence” on what is observed.

Heisenberg uncertainty principleThe Werner Heisenberg uncertainty principle says that the act of observation interferes with what is being observed. He defined that the position and momentum of a particle cannot be simultaneously measured with arbitrarily high precision. More precisely the position is determined less precisely the momentum is known in this instant, and vice versa. This is even more relevant in dealing with human and organizational systems. But there is a difference. In human and organizational systems, the object of observation is aware of being observed and can react depending on the situation and perceived purpose of the observation. This can compound the challenges of leadership.

Brownian motionThere is definitively a version of the Heisenberg principle that works in leadership area. If a leader is present and steers things, they function differently than when he is present and doesn’t steer, or even when he is not present. Of course, it seems to work better when a leader is present. But shouldn't a leadership be about followers doing right things even when a leader is not present?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Free will and entanglement

I watched Dan Ariely, behavioral economist and the author of Predictably Irrational, TED talk: “Are we in control of our own decisions?. It triggered a huge amount of my discussions with people. Mine definition on our control over decision was so radical that most just could not accept it. I spoke in favor that “our free will (and decision-making) is not only  created by our conscious mind” but also by our unconscious. Bottom line is whether it was ‘I’ that decided and no ‘someone else’!  I strongly prop as a true that ‘I am’ conscious and unconscious part and my gens and cultural impact of environment and more together in all I do, think, decide.

consciousnessMost people, due to their “background noise” (see my TEDx talk) generated by the philosophy of René Descartes (1596) believe that only conscious mind is a seat for our “free will” decision. It is due to Descartes who clearly identified that the mental and the physical—or mind and body or mind and brain—are, in some sense, radically different kinds of thing. Therefore, only the mind ‘holds’ consciousness and self-awareness. It was supported by theology to impose believes that Good and Evil—or God and the Devil are independent against more pragmatic views of Blaise Pascal (1623). Pascal’s development of probability theory and his ‘Wager’ were more systematical approaches and therefore closer to pluralism, which is the view that there are many kinds or categories. This last idea is also much more in accordance with Far East ‘Yin and Yang’ principle. The principle where there is always something Good in Evil and some Evil in Good.

Back now to my understanding of “free will”. According to David Hume, the question of the nature of free will is “the most contentious question of metaphysics.” Minimally, to frame “free will” would be in the ability of agents to have the capacity to choose his or her course of action unconstrained by certain factors. But animals seem to satisfy this criterion too, and we typically think that only persons, and not animals, have “free will.”

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Leadership and emotions

Is a leader supposed to show emotions?

To answer this let look at what emotions are. If you “google it” you get results such us:
  • a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one's circumstances, mood, or relationships with others;
  • a conscious mental reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body;
  • an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness;
  • a mental state that arises spontaneously rather than through conscious effort and is often accompanied by physiological changes; a feeling: the emotions of joy, sorrow, reverence, hate, and love.

emotions_transmitterSo emotions are “we” and we consciously or unconsciously show them. Emotions are chemical reactions between specific combinations of the levels of the signal substances dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin. Emotions can likely be mediated by pheromones… so there seems no way to hide them. Often, one of the reasons we don’t show emotion is because we are not even aware or we mingle what emotion we have. In most situations when we are angry, frustrated, or upset we suppress it or “by mistake” mix it for some other emotion. And we tend to hide them when we want to stay in control or look strong. Well, in reality, doing so diminishes our control and weakens our capacity to lead. And we end up not saying what we mean or not meaning what we say.