This Is the Skill Your MBA Curriculum Should Teach, But Doesn’t


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It’s 1997. In Seoul, I’m co-teaching a week-long course on negotiation and conflict resolution with Doug Stone, a longtime friend and former Harvard Law School colleague.

We discover a participant is absent after a morning session. One of the students says, “She’s at the doctor getting her chi re-balanced.”

Who is she? At the physician?

Now that I think about it, I regret giving that statement a blank stare. I didn’t know then what I know now: For top leaders, mastering this vital life energy, often written as qi, is critical. The capacity to effortlessly and skillfully tap into the energy in your core, at your centre of wellness, is a prerequisite for becoming a great leader.

This piece of knowledge has been prevalent in Eastern civilizations for thousands of years, but it has not yet been included into the Western definition of leadership mastery. “Balancing your chi” should be included in your MBA programme, but you probably won’t find it there.

You Get Vitality from Your “Center,” Not Just Calm

Since spending a week with Doug in South Korea 25 years ago, I’ve looked into life force energy in relation to the effectiveness and satisfaction of leaders. Because of its importance, it formed a key component of the leadership ideas I discuss in “Winning from within.” It is crucial to the framework of who we are.

We all have a centre of wellness according to the “Winning From Within” approach. Our essence, or vital power, may be found at this core.

The characteristics of quiet and inner peace you can cultivate by connecting to your centre of health when stress overwhelms you are topics I often teach and write about, but your centre is more than just a place to unwind.

Your centre of wellness serves as a source of dynamic equilibrium between relaxing and energizing impulses. In addition to silence, our essence also contains a stream of life. This force of aliveness might act as a switch to help us get up off the sofa when we are exhausted.

We may draw power and resiliency from both energy in our core to overcome overwhelming business obstacles and regain balance. When you achieve that equilibrium, you can demonstrate executive presence, agility, and centeredness to your team and to everyone else who depends on your leadership. Those close to you will feel both energised and calmed by your display of life energy.

From a position of balanced energy, I lead

You may lead from a position of balance where all of your essential characteristics, including competition, cooperation, and creativity, and pragmatism, can work in harmony by learning how to move the energy of your fundamental life force with meaning and purpose.

We are all aware that in order to modify anything or transform something, energy is required. The absolute need for the finest leaders is mastery of their energy state.

To turn water into steam, energy is needed. A kickball that is sitting at home base possesses potential energy up until a youngster kicks it, and kinetic energy keeps the ball moving until it is caught.

Every day, leaders must control and redirect their energy to meet challenges and opportunities. You possess an innate energy core in addition to frameworks, tools, intellect, and talents. You are who you really are. You possess chi. Depending on what you need at the time, this vital force in your core may energise you or assist you in catching your breath.

We must reconnect to our centre of wellness and reset ourselves if we are to give all we have to what we are trying to achieve. It is time for us to train as chi physicians on our own.

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