Your secret leadership superpowers emblems underneath your hoodies and athleisure wear.
The exotic things I desire are usually things from far away places, things that sound obscure, and things that I actually am utterly clueless about:Tacos de Sesos, Dieter Rams’ Tape Recorder, and Turkish Hammams.
The same appears to be true for other people too: T-shirts with random English phrases, Hygge houses, and Lion’s Mane mushrooms.
Hence, regardless of how one might feel about this seemingly common human desire, here are three Chinese phrases that I think are both exotic and highly inspiration for professionals. In fact, I would argue by the end of this random musing, you will need to summon the energy to resist the urge to tattoo these characters onto your body parts.
I also hope Chinese readers like me would be re-kindled with the awesomeness of our language, and that this exercising of spiraling up a cow’s horn (轉牛角尖）might actually deepen/strengthen our understanding of various leadership skills.
Alright. Let’s find the less hairy parts of your body, light up some incents, and get ready from some mental ink needling:
Composure is the ability to remain calm, non-reactive, and clear-minded. It’s the skill to remain steady, both mentally and perhaps even physically, when shxt hits the fan. It’s the ultimate self-control to conceal your awe, both mentally and perhaps even physically, when Justin Trudeau, with his dreamy hair, shows up at your doorsteps. This is a critical leadership skill — when you the leader freaks out, your teams will have little hope not to freak out.
The two characters for composure in Chinese could be 淡定. Separately, 淡 could mean bland, diluted, light, or low fat/coke light kind of light. It is also used to describe freshwater (as opposed to sea/salted water). 定 could mean steady and stable.
So these two characters describe composure really well. To be composed is not to give as much flavor to anything. The “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” book turns this idea into a best seller and the ultimate life hack. Once you learn how to be bland, to become a gluten-free sourdough bread, you then have a chance to be steady, stable, unfazed, and … cool.
An agile leader is one who adapts and learns well. He or she has a growth mindset. He or she can work with people of all kinds. An agile leader would get a furious fist pump from Bruce Lee because he/she can indeed, “be water.”
The character 靈 could mean spirits, the soul, consciousness. (and fairies too) 活 could mean alive, be lively, be active, and to live. When you combine these two characters, they beautifully describe the essence of agility — it is the liveliness and fluidity of the spirit. It is someone whose soul is liberated to experience the woo-woo-ness of the esoteric frontier. It is someone who is infinitely curious and is fearless to learn. In other words, to be truly agile, we need to work on it from the inside-out. Now please sit down, close your eyes, and meditate.
Leaders must be ethical: This particular skill has been rapidly rising in most Top 10 leadership skills lists on the inter-web. In today’s world, in order to become a truly inspirational leader and a LinkedIn KOL, you have to love profits, people, and pandas.
The character 道 is Tao. Yes, the same Tao in Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. It means the way, the path, or, more specifically, it could mean the truth of nature and human existence. 德 could mean adherence, specifically the adherence of the right path, to nature, and to the stars and the moons and Elon Musk. What’s cool about both characters is they both contain parts inside them that signify movement. For example, the “彳” on the left side of the character 德, relates to walking. To further dramatise, 道德 is more than just ethics. It is the choice to walk along the path to the truth and righteousness. It is the decision to use one’s superpower to live life. It’s the moment Clark Kent rips off his Oxford shirt to reveal his “Designed by Aliens in Neptune” “S” logo and leaps into action.
Now go google a parlor that doesn’t have a 3 year-long waitlist. 🙃