Jul 11, 2011

Tai Chi – An Amazing Gift For Your Children

Tai Chi Chuan, also known simply as Tai Chi, is a relaxing and meditative form of movement that can focus energy and provide a feeling of calm. By teaching the intricate relationship of opposites through physical motion, Tai Chi’s exploration of “yin” and “yang” can help provide both physical and mental balance.
One of the greatest benefits that Tai Chi students often achieve is the ability to effectively monitor external and internal feedback provided by their bodies and minds. While adults often turn to Tai Chi to cope with the stressors of work and family life, this ancient Chinese discipline is an activity you can share with children of all ages and abilities to help them cope with the mounting pressures of school and peer pressure. Here are a few ways that Tai Chi can benefit families with young children, “tweeners” and teens alike.

Improved concentration: A study at the University of Miami’s Touch Research Institute demonstrated that 10 sessions of Tai Chi helped adolescents with ADHD. Teens showed improved behavior, decreased hyperactivity and less daydreaming.

Improved Balance: In 2008, U.S. News and World Report published the article “For Better Balance, Pilates and Tai Chi Beat Out Yoga.” According to quotes from the University of California’s Fall Prevention Center for Excellence, Tai Chi is more effective at improving coordination and motor control while walking, which is when most falls tend to occur.

Lung Function Benefits: A Taiwanese study published in the 200 Journal of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infection revealed that asthmatic children who studied Tai Chi had improved pulmonary function.

Tai Chi Provides Insight: When children practice some forms of martial art like karate and judo they sometimes lose sight of their goals in their quest to win competitions or race each other to the next level or belt color. In contrast, Tai Chi is a noncompetitive activity where kids can move at their own pace without having to compete or constantly strive to attain belts or rankings.

A Tai Chi Style for Everyone: Families new to Tai Chi often don’t realize that there are several styles of Tai Chi. Some focus on fast-paced, high-energy movements while others are more slow and meditative. Do some research to figure out which one might be most suitable for your family or better yet, mix and match several forms for variety and benefits diversity.

No Fancy Equipment Necessary: While competitive sports have many benefits, one of the biggest drawbacks is the cost of equipment. If you are tired of running out to the sporting goods store to load up on baseball equipment, soccer uniforms or an expensive set of children’s golf clubs, consider Tai Chi as an inexpensive yet healthful activity that can be practiced as a group or alone.

Tai Chi Attunes Kids to Nature: Tai Chi has over 100 positions that are often named and based on movements displayed by animals, with a few being imaginary. When practicing Tai Chi, children are asked to envision moving like the animal that the position is named after. “Elephant drinks water,” “Bird stretches neck,” and “Dragon plays in the clouds” all work to develop flexibility. The “Tiger charges” and the “Lion sleeps” movements improve muscle tone while the “White crane flies” works on enhancing balance.

Tai Chi is Family-Friendly: If you’re struggling to recall a time when you all did something together, perhaps taking some Tai Chi classes and practicing as a family would be a great opportunity to reconnect.

The World is Your Tai Chi Studio: One of the greatest joys of Tai Chi is that you can practice it almost anywhere. Whether you are looking to visit a local park, have a lengthy layover at the airport or want to spend time at home minus the distractions of video games, television and computers, Tai Chi can transport you and your children to a peaceful, more centered place.
While many Tai Chi books and DVDs are readily available, consider initially working with an instructor who can provide guidance to both you and your children. Set aside some time for instruction and practice regularly so that you and your children can enjoy the many benefits of this ancient form of “meditation in motion.”

Jul 3, 2011

- Leadership Practices Manifesto

  1. Leaders have vision. Leaders have a strong sense of direction and a clear point of view. Unless the leader knows where he is going, people will be hesitant to follow. Leaders are always looking towards the future, plotting the course to new land, leaders are modern explorers, always seeking new lands and striving for distant shores.
  2. Leaders create change. Leaders bring change and leaders challenge the status quo. Leaders initiate change, before there is an urgent need for change. If there is no need for change, there is no need for leadership! Leaders bring about change, they initiate, they innovate, they make things happen, they disturb the status quo!
  3. Leaders face reality. Leaders have the courage to face reality as it is, not as they imagine it to be. Leaders who fail to face reality as it is, delude themselves, they make change impossible and are doomed to fail. Leaders who face reality adapt their strategy and tactics to reflect reality. Leaders embrace reality and use it as a catalyst to accelerate change.
  4. Leaders are unique. Leaders are unique and original, they are not clones. They do not have a specific personality type, they do not all exhibit a specific leadership style and they do not all exhibit the same set of leadership traits or competencies. They are all different, they have their own peculiarities and they all have their own unique personality and style.
  5. Leaders set high standards. They set high standards for themselves and for those they lead. They set stretch goals that go beyond what is expected. They push the boundaries. they pioneer, they blaze new paths. They stretch our abilities, they stretch our thinking and they stretch our capabilities. Leaders we’re responsible to set the example and the example they set should inspire others to a higher standard.
  6. Leadership is a choice. Leadership does not just happen. Leadership is a choice we make to live our a vision and purpose every day. When we don’t intentionally chose to lead, we ultimately choose to follow. Leaders are not passive, they make proactive and intentional choices.
  7. Leaders are made and not born. Leaders know who they are, understand their unique purpose, strengths and skills. Leaders are made, that is they learn, grow and develop into great leaders through the books they read, the people they associate with and from their experiences. They use who they are to bring their vision into the present.
  8. Leaders set the example. Leading by example is the most powerful form of leadership. Leaders are constantly seeking to become the change that they want to see in the world. They set the example and show the way.
  9. Leaders incite conversation. Leaders are the custodians of an organisations conversation. The quality of the conversation can be directly correlated with the quality of the organisation’s leadership. Leaders make sure that the ideas that get talked about are the ones worth talking about, the ones that will make a difference.
  10. Leaders understand character matters. Character sets the foundation for leadership. Character establishes the necessary environment for trust. Without trust you cannot lead. Ability may get you there, but it is character that keeps you there! You cannot rise above the limits of your character. Behaviour is the expression of the leaders character.
  11. Leaders communicate continually. Communication is critical to effective leadership, however it’s often something we take for granted and not given the attention it deserves. Without effective communication you cannot lead… you end up talking a walk on your own. No communication, no leadership!
  12. Leaders take responsibility. Leaders don’t wait for permission or authority, before they take responsibility and act to make a difference. When a situation needs to be improved, leaders make the choice to take responsibility. The accept responsibility to face reality, to create vision, to be the example, to develop their character, to inspire, to develop others and for the results they achieve.
  13. Leaders invest in themselves. Leaders take care of their spiritual, emotional, mental and physical needs.
  14. Leaders are results focused. Leaders initiate and make things happen. Leaders are judged by their results. Failing to achieve positive results undermines a leaders influence and erodes trust. Leader focus on results and outcomes.
  15. Leaders inspire others. Leaders cannot achieve their visions alone. They inspire others to come alongside and participate in the journey. They lead in ways the inspire others to volunteer their talents and energy towards the achievement of the shared vision.
  16. Leaders leave a legacy. Success is what we do for ourselves whilst legacy is what we do for other. A leaders legacy is what they do for other and how they have invested in and developed others.
  17. Leaders build influence. Leaders achieve their vision through others, this requires influence. Leaders consciously build the influence required to execute on the vision.

If you have any ideas or principles that you would like to add please feel free to leave a comment below.

(thepracticeof leadershp)

Jul 1, 2011

- Two Personality Traits Every Leader Needs

1. Intellectual curiosity: People associate leadership with bold action, but most bad decisions come down to one simple fact: you’ve made a bold decision before having all the facts.  Curiosity includes getting to the bottom of what’s going on, why it happened, and what the underlying causes are.
Curiosity implies a desire to learn.  As Warren Bennis says, great leaders are “conceptualists.”  They dig into big ideas and see how they apply.  Without curiosity, leaders make decisions based on politics and expediency.
Curiosity includes a love of listening.  My colleague Mark Goulston, a leadership expert and psychiatrist, wrote a book that is perfectly titled: Just Listen.  (The book is available from the American Management Association as a free ebook.)  Many of the worst leaders I know don’t listen, don’t like to listen, and hide in their offices talking to a small circle of people who think like they do.
Companies that lack curiosity don’t see the need for change coming until it’s too late.  Circuit City, Sears, and Blockbuster come to mind.
2. Courage to stand by values: The–say it with me–”Weiner affair” shows us what happens when people act on impulses rather than values.  Courage goes far beyond avoiding moral lapses.  It means finding a set of principles that the leader will use to make decisions, so that no one doubts where they stand.  Courage is what gives leaders the intestinal fortitude to make decisions that will draw fire from nay-sayers.
Companies that lack courage strike people as spineless or lacking a conscience.  The list includes not only Enron and WorldCom, but also Whirlpool, Kmart, and Nokia.   In all three cases the companies failed to take bold actions that could have redefined their markets.
Leaders lack the resolve to stop doing something unethical, or don’t venture out in bold new directions.
Reading Warren Bennis reminded me that change has no constituents.  A courageous decision will result in critics shooting spit wads of cynicism and sarcasm.  The leader must demonstrate curiosity to fully understand the situation, and then courage to make the best decisions for everyone.  If the leader caves into criticisms prematurely, then the nay-sayers start running the place.  Vision is discarded and mediocrity is the future.
Curiosity and courage have a tension between them, and neither is an end in itself.  Too much curiosity and the leader is weak and indecisive.  Too much courage and the leader is brazen and thoughtless.

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