On December 17, 2012 a blog was posted on Forbes.com entitled ‘Study Aikido to Become A Better Business Leader.’ Within the business community I’ve met numbers of executives, and employees, who have benefited from aiki-based leadership programs. As a student and teacher of Aikido for nearly five decades, I work with people from corporate boardrooms to conflict zones to golf courses to youth camps, exploring new terrain to become 'black belt' peak performers and leaders.
So you might ask: "What's Aikido got to do with it”?
Martial arts all work with power, responses to stress and attack, and techniques to be safe while resolving the problem or conflict at hand. Aikido is uniquely known as ‘The Martial Art of Peace’ and is rooted in three Japanese kanji / concepts:
AI = harmony, unity, oneness
KI = life-force or life-energy
DO = Way or Path, a way of life and ongoing daily practice.
Translations of the word AI-KI-DO might be ‘The Way of Living Harmoniously’ or ‘The Way of Uniting with The Power of Universal Life-Energy.’ Such words and notions have hardly had much credence in the marketplace as we have known it … until perhaps now.
The real bottom line in business, and life, is this: Peak productivity and profitability are promoted by three essential H’s: Health, Harmony and Happiness. Rather than being ‘soft’ or ‘new age-y’, the benefits of holistic approaches and positive confluence are today being grounded in cutting-edge neuro-biological and neuro-social research. Business practices that lead to quashed creativity, sickening stress and dis-ease, bitter conflict, staff division, high absenteeism and turnover are literally not worth it.
Most of us have grown up with traditional business notions of 'dog-eat-dog' 'cutthroat competition', where 'the fittest survive' through 'hard work' and 'pulling yourself up by your bootstraps'. But things are changing quickly now as we've moved from the Industrial Age to a more techno-cyber global economy and green r/evolution. These changes are all in the direction of increased cooperation and collaboration, inclusive diversity, and mutually beneficial means and ends.
There is a need for more win-win ways as we all face economic and environmental perils on the planet. In this context, aikido appears as an astute wellspring for forward-thinking business and leadership practices. It uniquely teaches how to blend and flow, rather than resist or oppose. Beyond good or nice ideas, it affords direct physical experience that harmony is powerful and can even work wonders. By contrast, the detrimental effects of aggression, brute force, intransigence, coercion, domination, etc. become very apparent.
Modern culture tends to be very head-oriented, cutting us off from full connection with ourselves and one another. Urbanization, computer-centered life and virtual reality are only exacerbating our separation from the wisdom, health and joy of being fully present and relating respectfully. Results are evident in staggering statistics on poor health, lowered productivity, high medical costs, failed marriages and businesses, broken homes and spirits, and tragic too-early losses of life itself.
A key component in making Aikido-based business trainings so effective is physical learning (adding freshness and fun as well). The body is our vehicle for everything in life, registering everything that happens. So it is actually a great storehouse of personal knowledge that is indispensable to success. Studies show that over 90% of communication goes on not through words but encoded in body language and energetic 'vibes' (in fact, measurable vibrational frequency within the body's cells). Stress itself is a bio-chemical, neuro-physiological happening within the body that dramatically impacts thoughts, emotions, decisions and actions. Somatic Awareness (soma = ‘the body’ in Greek) and Somatic Skills open up a largely untapped realm for enriching self-mastery and peak performance capability.
Integrative mind-body business trainings tend to be out-of-the-box relative to most coaching and seminars. This should come as good news for those seeking to turn work into more pay, and even play. The term competitive advantage takes on new dimensions when energy-understandings are applied to leadership, wellness and conflict resolution. For example, the CEO of a hi-tech company in Silicon Valley asked me to do experiential training with his management team as they were preparing a bid to be part of an industry giant’s software project. He said he had ‘a scorcher’ on the team. We were able to shift both the individual and group’s thought process and presentation style, to help them achieve success in the all-important negotiations and secure the contract.
Fascinating things happen through utilizing somatic skills that attune the body-mind system and foster an atmosphere of peace and inclusion in company culture. Great businesses and great success are not achieved alone, or by accident. Utilizing AI KI and DO, business leaders can nurture healthy aligned teams of peak performing players: ‘black belt’ executives and employees who are empowered, focused on maximizing their talents and abilities, and achieving their best working together.
What if we didn't know how to be or work any other way?
Jamie Leno Zimron is a 6th Degree Aikido Black Belt, LPGA Teaching Professional, Somatic Psychologist, Peak Performance Speaker-Trainer, and international Citizen’s Diplomat. Jamie Sensei (Master Instructor) provides integrative body-mind mastery trainings for top results in business, golf, and all the playing fields of life. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University, she is esteemed worldwide for her dynamic teaching style and unique gifts in guiding people to newfound well-being and success.