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.
To 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.
Steering – is the key ingredient in leadership: a leader could steer with force, authority or with his personality (virtue). Tai chi teaches that ‘xin’ (heart-mind) drives actions and not our body or reflexes. A leadership is not a management (see blog: Leader vs. manager) where one dictates or forces what, how and when to do. A leader steers (redirecting energy) and people follow by the conviction and not pressure. To do so, a leader should be stable in decisions and all he does or asks. He/she cannot change just because “the weather changed” but can and has to adapt and be flexible to the circumstances that ask for his profound attention. A leader has to have a timely manner. The same is in pushing hands: if you are not stable the opponent gets an opportunity. If you do not adapt to the change, you lose again. To avoid it you have to have a proper timing and developed sensing (and not ego). Timing is obviously important also for time frames – they open and close. Being too early or too late, you hit the “wall” and opponent gets another chance. It is the same in leadership: you steer and deal with people and they have their good and bad times. If you sense it you perform accordingly. If you do not, you hit “the wall” of people’s resistance.
What is your opinion: “Could a leader learn from Tai Chi?”