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To most people in the corporate arena, qigong is an irrelevance. This is potentially qigong’s biggest advantage: If you bring Yoga into an organisation, most people will have a preconceived idea of what it is, what they are going to have to do, how they should dress and what they will learn. While qigong remains a mystery, it has far greater potential as a learning tool because it is not limited by such assumptions and expectations.
The flip side of this is that there are very few businesses out there thinking: Qigong will be the answer to all of our problems…
To make qigong a highly respected and sought after technique in the corporate world we need to be able to offer it in a way that is more diverse, more relatable and more effective than current training techniques, the good news is that this is actually quite easy to achieve.
The even better news is that it’s possible to explore this crossover between qigong and corporate training in the online space in a new program of training designed to help qigong teachers and practitioners create space for change in themselves, in the individuals they work with and within the organisations that engage in the ideas and practices.
This modular program builds up your qigong toolkit, it helps you hone your existing skills and provides you with the space and support to develop your own programs in order to meet the needs of your corporate clients.
The Green Chair’s training program is about helping you develop your own training skills, not emulate someone else’s. We’re interested in helping you discover your own authentic training style and developing your own highly effective programs.
We believe that the most effective training creates space for exploration and change, this type of training requires a relaxed, challenging and supportive environment and we will work towards creating this type of learning space throughout the program.
We believe that homework should be about building your personal library of training material, developing content that will draw people into your work and enhancing both your training ability and personal development.
We understand that everyone comes into these types of programs with a rich, personal understanding and that we need to take the time to learn from each other and support each other on our journeys.
In order to support this approach, the online program works with a combination of core and additional modules so that we can work with you to tailor the training to your individual needs.
All sessions are run in the evening from 7:30pm onwards (UK time) and have limited availability to ensure a maximum group size of 8 people.
With the exception of the Introduction to Corporate Qigong, all core modules follow the same basic structure. Whether this is one of the shorter 2 sessions modules or a longer 4 session module, each module includes two types of sessions:
As Qigong practitioners and teachers we are trained to work with individuals and groups in order to help them let go of the ties that bind them and hold them back. We develop the skills through our personal practice and our work with others in order to create the space for change. We are constantly evolving and changing and helping others to do the same, so how can we apply these skills in order to create the space for change in organisations and businesses?
This introductory session will examine the basics of corporate qigong work and create a foundation from which we can develop a powerful toolkit that will not only help with your own qigong journey, it will also help to unleash the potential for others to do amazing things in their chosen fields.
The concept of a qi field is central to many systems of Qigong, but what does it mean to organisations?
Qi field theory permeates the whole of the program and is revisited many times, in many different ways, but in this instance we are looking at what qi fields mean in broader organisational terms. We’ll explore ways in which qi fields can both limit and enhance the potential of the organisation and its stakeholders and we’ll also look at ways to disrupt qi fields and create greater space for evolution and change.
If there was one key skill that a qigong practitioner working in the corporate sector requires, it’s the ability to create effective learning spaces.
In this module we will explore the key aspects of learning spaces. We’ll look at ways in which to create flat training structures while still supporting the expertise in the room and not undermining your own ability to hold the space for others. We’ll look at the structuring training sessions to make them inclusive and relevant to everyone and we’ll explore some tricks and tips that will help you become more effective as a trainer.
Our ability to communicate and integrate are key in making us effective within teams, organisations and the wider society. Whether this is about developing our own interpersonal skills to help us work more effectively, or supporting others in developing theirs, this is a key aspect of most soft skills training in the corporate arena.
Practicing what you preach is an important tenet here. Developing our own abilities to communicate and blend with different groups using ideas and structure that we will then go on to train with is important to ensure that we have a good understanding of both the skill and the impact of the skill that we are sharing with others.
Whether you are on a healing journey, a spiritual journey or a career journey, we are developing ourselves, we are on a journey of personal development.
It’s probably already very obvious from your own personal practice that Qigong is a powerful tool for personal development, understanding how we can view this process through more conventional personal development models and processes not only strengthens our own evolution, it will help us to share ideas more effectively with the people we work with and help them unleash their true potential.
We are probably very familiar with the basics of communication, and having spent time exploring interpersonal skills we would have a greater understanding of the subtleties that exist within groups, but what about when you are asked to do something more challenging?
Whether you’re training people to stand up in front of an audience, deliver difficult news or deal with aggression or conflict, having qigong based tools and techniques at your disposal will transform your ability to communicate.
The core modules are the ingredients, the additional modules are the recipes…
Running alongside the core modules are a range of additional modules that help to refine the use of the material into structured programs. Each additional module is a single session that draws together the material around a single theme.
The modules will run on demand and will draw from a combination of existing training programs and needs arising in organisations you’re working with. We can spend time refining training skills, developing training plans or even collaborating on larger projects.
The underlying idea of the additional modules is that they should become a community resource that are open to everyone who have been through the core modules.
To give a flavour of the existing training programs that we can explore, here’s a list of current (delivered) training programs:
Starting with an Introduction to Corporate Qigong on Tuesday 12th Jan, the weekly sessions run from 7pm to 8pm (UK time) every week until 4th May.
Alternate weeks will be lecture/discussion with the weeks between being group work and development weeks. All sessions will be recorded so that you can catch up should you not be able to attend a session.
The first intake will be offered at half price, £400 instead of £800, and will be limited to 8 people so that we can support each other in both developing our skills and developing the course.
If you would like to be involved in this innovative and challenging training, please fill in our registration form. This does not guarantee a place on the training, it simply secures an option to take part and reserves your place on a first come, first served basis.
One of the key things that we believe at The Green Chair is that we don’t teach anyone, we simply provide the space in which to learn…
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In order to create the space to learn, we need to understand how to unlearn and the following videos explore some key benefits of this often ignored skill.
To find our more, contact us at the email address above or give us a call.
With an increasing number of conversations occurring in this area over recent months, it felt important to share some of the core ideas that we work with at The Green Chair.
The following videos address three key ideas in this area. Although it’s not possible to fully explore the concepts in these short videos, the hope is that it will give pause for thought and help to offer fresh perspectives on a rather large subject.
To find out more about the programmes we can offer, contact us at the email address in the header.
Fag Break for the Non-Smoker is ultimately a workshop focussing on the benefits of utilising the space that is hidden in plain sight.
The name came about from a conversation with a client I’d been helping with issues around anxiety and depression. To cut a long story short; after a couple of sessions that combined my core practice of Qigong with some more mainstream approaches, he contacted me to say that the integrated approach we’d worked on had turned his life around. One of the strategies involved taking 5 minutes out every couple of hours and it was on one these ‘breaks’ that he called me to ask the question ‘When I see people going out for a fag break, are they doing the same thing as me?’… the short answer was ‘Yes’.
Although the Fag Break sessions initially focused on stress and wellbeing, it wasn’t long before I was getting feedback from attendees about the way it had transformed their communication skills, enhanced their leadership and provided clarity and insight about their approach to business. The truth of the matter is that making the most of short breaks has significantly greater potential than we can imagine.
So having established that there is real power in utilising the space that exists within our daily routine, what better way could there be to explore this potential than through Fag Break for the Non-Smoker?
At the heart of all The Green Chair’s training is the concept that learning has as much to do with awareness of our responses as it has to do with awakening new ideas. It’s a delicate balance between creating space for new ideas and letting go of the limitation of our existing paradigm.
Fag Break is for anyone with an interest in both self development and the evolution of business.
The aim of the session is to provide you with the opportunity to explore your own approach to business and wellbeing, so that you better understand what’s working well for you and what can be improved. There’ll be a generous sharing of ideas, great insights from a wide range of business practices and the opportunity to explore the deeper aspects of self development.
The Columbia Hotel, Lancaster Gate, London
18th January 2018
9:30am to 4:30pm
You can reserve your place(s) through Eventbrite. The initial workshop on 18th January is being offered at the reduced rate of £195 for the day (normal price £395) but this comes with a catch… We will be asking for your feedback to help promote the workshop and to help refine it.
If you want any more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the Osaka Central Electric Club Auditorium in 1932, Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of Panasonic, spoke to his employees about MEI’s mission (MEI being the forerunner to Panasonic). He is quoted as saying “The mission of a manufacturer should be to overcome poverty, to relieve society as a whole from misery, and bring it wealth.”. He then went on to say that achieving this mission could take two or three centuries but this should not deter people from trying.
As far as a mission for a ‘Conscious Business’ goes, the idea of overcoming poverty, relieving misery and bringing wealth is pretty ‘up there’, but it’s the recognition that this aim could take centuries to achieve that makes such an aim achievable and invites future generations to embrace the purpose and keep moving forward.
With the idea of the apparently unachievable becoming achievable given enough time, the ultimate aim of Conscious Business becomes a far more relevant discussion. Not only does it allow us to work towards a far more ambitious goal, it also prevents us from lurching from one short-term goal to the next without a clear idea of what we ultimately want to achieve.
So rather than asking ‘what can be done to make business more Conscious?’ let’s ask the question ‘what’s the ideal vision for Conscious business?’
One version of this ideal vision is based on the defined purpose of an organisation. Although this purpose can originate from the founder, as with Matsushita’s mission for MEI, it’s important that the organisation’s stakeholders are both engaged by the purpose and responsible for it’s evolution. This transfer of awareness and intention away from an individual and into the organisation creates a consciousness that is independent of the individual and exists within the collective mind of the organisation.
Having said that, creating organisational consciousness is only part of the story in this idealistic vision. The other major factor is relationship, more specifically the stakeholder’s relationship with organisation purpose. In simple terms, when the customers, suppliers and employees resonate with the organisational purpose they will support the organisation. If the purpose ceases to have relevance, they will no longer offer their support.
This simple meeting of stakeholder relationship and organisational purpose is the key to unlocking Conscious Business. Regardless of what you feel is important within the vast arena of Conscious Business, it’s your ability as a stakeholder, to interact with the organisation(s) that resonate with your personal belief system that makes the difference.
This meeting of minds to form larger movements needs people who will step up and get involved. It also requires stakeholders who recognise both the resonances and differences between the organisation’s purpose and there own and be brave enough to work in the interest of the organisation.
Is Conscious Business an achievable aim? It could take two or three centuries. We shouldn’t use this as a reason to resist moving toward a more aware and sustainable world, we can take meaningful steps now.
The rise of Mindfulness as a corporate strategy is odd. In analogous terms, using mindfulness in a corporate arena is a bit like hammering in nails with your shoe. The technique will work, but in the same way as a shoe is far better at helping you get to new, interesting places; a hammer is a far better tool for driving in nails.
As a practice that helps achieve a state of non-judgmental awareness, you might describe mindfulness as being less about having a mind that is distracted and full, and more about having a mind that is empty enough to be aware and mindful.
From a corporate perspective the idea of emptying the mind and reaching a state of non-judgmental awareness may seem to be a dubious talent but there are some real benefits; among them:
These benefits are real and have obvious advantages, but this is not the purpose of mindfulness, these are just byproducts of what is ultimately a spiritual practice that leads to what Buddhists call enlightenment.
The truth of the matter is that the potential of mindfulness is vast, but with such a wide and varied list of benefits you should really be asking yourself ‘what am I looking for?’ A bit like the analogy of hammering in nails, you need to know what it is you are trying to achieve so that you can choose the best approach.
If your aim is spiritual enlightenment, then Mindfulness is a proven and trusted method. If you want to improve wellbeing in the workplace, a more focused and accessible method that supports the principles of mindfulness will be a better tool for your needs.
There are obvious differences between the previously mentioned benefits, and to be most effective it’s best to focus on one specific idea; ideas such as:
You might say that this focus on the ideas that support the benefits helps to establish a foothold along the mindfulness journey. These footholds should be solid, trustworthy tools and techniques that easily integrated into everyday life and are accessible to everyone. It’s these footholds that provide maximum benefit in the corporate setting and as a result it’s these, and not pure mindfulness, that should be your focus.
The good news is that these tools and techniques already exist; they’ve been developed over millennia in many cultures and form the basis of the physical and spiritual practices that support mindfulness.
These tools are simple and accessible and will be familiar to practitioners of Yoga, Martial Arts and Qigong (to name just a few approaches). They offer the perspective and insight to create real change for you and your business; it’s just a question of finding the right tool and someone who is able to make it accessible, relevant and effective within your organisation.
Pure Mindfulness is a powerful tool with which to gain spiritual enlightenment. As such it’s something that continues to develop over long periods of time, some say multiple lifetimes, but it’s certainly not something you can master in a one-day workshop.
If you are looking to gain the benefits that mindfulness can bring to our busy modern world, your aim needs to be clearly defined, the techniques need to be appropriate and the really good news is that you can see real change after a one-day workshop. Not only that, these benefits will only increase with practice and experience.
So, next time you put your shoes on, remember that they’re better used to help you on the journey, if you want to create a strong foothold, use a hammer…
Have you ever taken your car to the garage and been offered the option of a cheap repair that will just see you through, or a full repair that will cost more but overcome the problem once and for all?
If it’s a cheap runabout that you only want to keep for a short time and the full repair is expensive, it’s unlikely that you’ll spend the extra cash. So when does it become worth doing the job properly?
When we consider a car there are some clear-cut parameters that we can work to:
These decisions, although financially painful, are fairly straight forward, but how do you approach the same type of decision when it comes to health and wellbeing?
When things start to creak a little either emotionally or physically, which option do you take? Do you go for the quick fix to just get you through or do you look for a more long-term solution? Do you even recognise the difference so that you can make a choice?
There are many times that a quick fix to health and wellbeing issues is the best way forward. If we think in terms of the car analogy, it’s those moments that you just have to get through this part of the journey so that you can address the underlying problem thoroughly when you get back to a more familiar place.
In a business environment the ‘difficult part of the journey’ might be a tight deadline or a difficult project. It will be some kind of transitory pressure that requires you to find the kind of strength that you can only really maintain for a short period of time.
We’ve all been in these scenarios and we all have our own ways of dealing with the stress, perhaps we have an extra glass of wine of an evening, maybe we immerse ourselves in exercise or perhaps find time to sit quietly with a good book, the options are endless but they have one thing in common; they are all coping strategies, they are quick fixes that distract us and help to see us through.
Coping strategies certainly have their place, we can all gain that bit of breathing space and respite from the benefits that they offer, but when is a more permanent solution the better option? and what is a more permanent solution in health and wellbeing terms?
The answer to the first question, ‘When is a more permanent solution the better option?’, there are really two answers.
The second question ‘what is a more permanent solution in health and wellbeing terms?’, also has two answers but unlike the previous question, these are not mutually exclusive:
These healthy new habits can be a variety of things that help us to change self limiting responses within ourselves, but what they have in common is an ability to negate the damaging aspects of our inappropriate emotional, physical and biological responses. In simple terms, they smooth over the hiccups and prevent them becoming glitches.
As with the analogy of the car, we only tend to address health and wellbeing issues when we notice something going wrong. At that point the most obvious response is the quick fix, but what would it be like if you could prevent these glitches by taking a proactive approach to your health and wellbeing?
To find out more about developing healthy new habits, contact email@example.com
Our world is developing at an amazing rate, arguable at the fastest pace since the Industrial Revolution, and the unfamiliarity, pressure and lack of control that this development brings can be a source of significant stress. So what can be done to reduce the negative aspects of stress on our physical and mental health?
Stress is a divisive word: to some it’s a pernicious influence that blights them on a daily basis; to others it’s the thing that keeps them on their toes, driving innovation and creativity. These two perspectives are at polar opposites of the spectrum of the stress response and actually raise the question of how stress can cause such hugely different reactions.
I like to think that the answer can be found by looking at one of the definitions of ‘stress’:
In order for this definition to work we must first be able to distinguish what is our ‘Comfort Zone’, the place in which we experience no pressure or tension.
For a far simpler society, and many animals, their comfort zone can be considered as simple as having food and shelter, but how many of us would be happy with simply having enough to eat and a roof over our heads?
The complexity of modern life means that we have a far more intricate definition of what our comfort zone is. Perhaps it’s tied up with our bank balance, maybe it’s about the place that we live, the clothes we wear and even the technology that we use. If any of these factors change, or are threatened in some way, we experience stress.
In the natural world, where comfort zone can be best defined as being safe and having access to sufficient food, the most obvious response to a threat to survival is to either fight or escape (the Fight or Flight Response). When we compare this to our uniquely human condition, we find a whole range of other responses that can bring us back into a state of balance; we can innovate, we can earn more money, we can educate ourselves, we can take control in a wide range of ways.
It’s fair to say that in almost all stressful situations that we experience in our day to day lives, the least appropriate response is ‘Fight or Flight’, but the unfortunate truth is that Fight or Flight is a primal, chemical response that activates more quickly than our logical brain. If we recognise something as being a threat, based on previous experience, the speed that we respond on a chemical level is truly astonishing.
The key here is the ‘previous experience’ bit. If, at some point in the past we have had an experience that has led to an undesirable result, it’s not always easy to take the time to respond in a different way the next time a similar situation arises. An extreme example of this would be if you’d been mugged at knifepoint on a particular section of road; in all likelihood, whenever you recognise that road, or a road that looks similar, your response will be instant. In the blink of an eye you will be flushed with adrenalin and ready for action.
That same section of road that causes such strong responses in one person is highly unlikely to have a similar effect on someone who does not associate it with a negative experience. This simple observation shows us that the Fight or Flight is something that we learn to activate, it’s not a purely instinctual response and it’s also not a well-considered, logical response but it is, never the less, a learned response.
Obviously getting mugged at knifepoint is at the extreme end of the scale of learned responses, but far smaller things can elicit similar responses depending on our perception of outcome. Perhaps it’s being asked to fill in a tax return or talk to a particular client, there is a vast range of things that can trigger us.
Although it’s not always easy to find a different response, it’s completely possible. The first thing to say is that the speed of the response tends to mean logical reactions, such as saying ‘just relax’ or ‘calm down’ are unlikely to be effective. Similarly, process driven solutions can often make logical sense, but fail in their execution as they do not address the response at the most effective level.
What we need is to find a way to override our learned response at a far more instinctual level so that we can then re-learn or un-learn the things that cause us to respond inappropriately
Experience has shown that simple habits like breathing techniques, postural changes and awareness-based therapies provide the most effective solution as they address these learned response at a ‘primal’ level. These simple habits can be explained in a logical way in order to build trust in them, but their real advantage lies in the simplicity that helps the techniques to become habitual far more quickly than more complex methods.
When we understand stress simply as something that takes us out of our comfort zone, it gives us the perspective needed to question and change our responses. In this regard, stress is an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to innovate and an opportunity to grow.
Learning to cope with stress is not only a powerful tool for people who exhibit signs of stress; it’s a valuable tool for people who find themselves stuck in some way, and let’s be honest here, how many of us could do with a helping hand in overcoming obstacles in our work and home lives?
Without stress, without the opportunity to learn, society would not evolve. In our uniquely human condition it’s the complex definition of our comfort zone and the innovative and creative way that we respond to stress that creates the rich tapestry that is modern life.
With each year new models of leadership bubble up to the surface of the ever-increasing ocean of leadership know-how.
The more models that we look at, the more rules and ideas we take on, but how productive is our tendency to apply new rules or follow someone else’s research? Does this help us to be more authentic and natural leaders?
Leadership models serve the same purpose as the frameworks used in our educational establishments. They are tools that develop our understanding of the subject to a point at which it becomes embedded into our subconscious. So when it comes to leadership development, what can we do to accelerate this process? How can we embody these lessons and become more authentic and effective leaders quickly and easily?
Leadership development is not a new concept; a brief look through Laozi’s Dao De Jing (4th Century BC) show that the development of leaders has been considered and documented for millennia. There’s also not a single definitive answer to the question of how to develop leadership skills quickly and effectively. It’s clear that some approaches are more appropriate to today’s busy world than others, so what is there to gain from the ancient Chinese moving meditation of Qigong in this regard?
Qigong practice combines movement with breath and ideas. In the medical practices, these ideas focus on physical and mental health. The ‘iron shirt’ practices focus on martial applications whilst the spiritual practices develop self-awareness. These areas may seem diverse but there are certain common threads that run through them and two of these are particularly relevant to our busy modern world, these are:
Whether Qigong is being studied from a medical, martial or spiritual perspective, the ideas and theories that are embedded within the practice are explored with a relaxed state of awareness. This state is not analytical, it’s more experiential; our mindset is more focused on the observation than the rule and this in turn helps to embed the underlying information more deeply.
Within the exploration of leadership the use of Qigong based learning methods helps us to experience our chosen models of leadership in a less analytical way. It helps us to embed the useful ideas without holding on too tightly to the processes and frameworks that are ultimately dropped.
The second benefit that exists with this approach to learning is the development of trusted habits. A physical movement, or even the memory of physical movement, that has a beneficial idea related to it can significantly alter our responses. When we have applied this practice and found a positive outcome we are more likely to repeat it. With each iteration our trust in the ‘habit’ grows, as does our tendency to change our patterns of response.
All this might sound similar to the anchoring techniques found within NLP, and it certainly appears to be a fair comparison, but within the Qigong practice the habit has the added advantage of physical relevance within the body.
Of course, for these techniques to be truly effective in a business environment they must be easily integrated. If we need to get dressed up in silk pyjamas and wave our arms and legs around in order to become more courageous or less critical the technique only has limited potential.
For this reason the practices that are most relevant within a business environment are those that become habitual behaviours. These unseen, highly effective strategies that embed into our working lives can help support the models and theories that have the most resonance for us as leaders.
As with all types of learning, the models that are used to explore leadership are always highly relevant. Combining these with the habits drawn from the practices such as Qigong only serves to quicken our learning and develop authentic leadership practices more efficiently.
Recently I was fortunate enough to spend time with the folks at The Ideas Centre and was thoroughly inspired by their approach to creativity in the workplace. Of all the techniques they teach and employ, one in particular stood out for me, and to be more specific one question ‘What would Batman do?’
As a tool for creativity, a way of accessing what Edward De Bono described as the intermediate impossible, the question of ‘What would Batman do?’ has massive potential, but why this resonated with me so strongly was a mystery.
Perhaps my inner geek was struggling to get out, on the other hand it could be that my social conditioning helped me identify with the idea of a saviour who would make everything better.
Looking back to my formative years, growing up as the son of a clergyman, the idea of a saviour was a theme that was frequently visited and has led to a couple of tendencies:
When things get tricky, the idea of the saviour gives me hope that someone will come along and ‘save the day’.
When I see things that are getting tricky for others, I have an urge to help out and be their saviour.
In all likelihood the second of these effects sounds far more positive than the first, but the reality is that they are different sides of the same coin. Whether we feel that we need to be a ‘saviour’, or we need to be ‘saved’, we recognise the benefit of not facing things alone.
Working together and supporting each other is arguably an intrinsic part of the human experience, and I would encourage everyone to engage in it, but something interesting happens when we look at these ideas from the perspective of leadership.
When we find ourselves in a ‘leadership role’ do we feel that one of these patterns of behaviour is more fitting than the other? Do we have a tendency to become the ‘Saviour’?
Well perhaps being the saviour is not the best approach. If we consider that the role of the leader as motivating, empowering and getting the full potential out of people, how useful is it to be the person who comes along and sorts out their problems? With the ideas of motivation, empowerment and getting the full potential out of people, how often would it be beneficial to occupy the role of the ‘saved’ and allow others to do the work?
So what has this got to do with Batman?
As a recognisable figure within our society Batman certainly has a lot of virtues that we would associate with leadership, but ultimately there’s a part of his character that only makes us feel good about ourselves when we’re more like him. In fact, there’s a well-known quote that says:
If we really want to succeed as leaders, we need to unlock the potential of those we interact with. If we choose to do this by inadvertently getting them to be more like us, we can end up limiting them and subsequently not fulfilling their own full potential.
Coming back to the initial question posed by the folk at The Ideas Centre of ‘What would Batman do?’ if we want to come up with great ideas that can really help us to take great leaps forward, try being Batman for a while, just remember that there’s a time and a place to wear your underpants on the outside.