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Action Through Inaction

Incorporate the lessons of Tai Chi and Qigong into your daily life as an entrepreneur.

I've been studying Tai Chi and Qigong for the past year and it's been helpful for me both mentally and physically to learn to relax my body and calm my mind in new ways. My instructor often quotes Lao Tse's concept of action through inaction, which sounds simple but is actually quite challenging.

The class is filled with people of all different professions. We start each class in a circle, introducing ourselves by name so it immediately makes the experience more intimate. The group then starts to warm up with small movements, and we build our minds and bodies to include the chi (energy) around us.

As a beginner, we learn individual pieces of the form, but we don't yet quite realize how they all fit together. We practice the simplest moves until they become habit, flowing seamlessly like a piece of kelp in the ocean or a ribbon in the wind.

Each student came to the class for different reasons: curiosity, improving health, balancing the yin and yang, overall fitness or because a spouse or friend brought them along. The class is diverse on every level. As I've gotten to know some of the other students, I've learned how this training improves the quality of their lives.

At the end of each class, someone tells a joke and we bow out; it's a nice way to part. The more I train, the more I realize how many applicable lessons from Tai Chi and Qigong there are for entrepreneurs to embrace.

  • Warm up before you start something new and practice longer than you want to or think you need to. Even the masters practice their lessons, which is why and how they've mastered their craft. Michael Jordan and Kevin Garnett both have the reputation of training harder than everyone else in the locker room; they were born with many gifts but work hard to achieve their success.
  • Having diversity enriches your experience. Different people bring new perspectives based on their background and knowledge. I've learned as much from the other students in the class as I have from the instructors. I feel I've taken the best from each of them and made it my own.
  • There is time to meditate, breathe deeply and stretch. You can find small pockets of time standing in line, waiting at a stop light or sitting in a reception area. You don't have to wait until you have an hour or two to make a difference. There are small opportunities throughout the day to practice and improve.
  • Get outside your comfort zone. Stretch your body and your mind. Even though I'm still a beginner, attending the more advanced classes gives me great insight into my training and my goals. I have a clearer vision of the future because I'm taking risks in the present. I highly recommend going out on that limb since that is where the fruit is, after all.
  • Leave every encounter with a smile. It will carry with you throughout the day.

Remember that there is action through inaction so not doing is also doing something. As Benjamin Franklin said, "never confuse motion with action." And the last word goes to Yoda and Nike "Try not. Do or do not. There is no try." Just do it!

Paige Arnof-Fenn is the founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls, a strategic-marketing consulting firm whose clients include Fortune 500 companies as well as early stage and emerging businesses.

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