Bringing Balance To The Way We Work

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The way we work is changing fast. We are more connected, doing business in multiple languages, across cultures, even across continents. Among my students, there is a real appetite for learning about chowa and, in a business context, learning how to forge harmonious partnerships across cultures.

In The Power Of Chowa, I explore the use of chowa in the world of business – and how you can use it in the way you work.

The cho of chowa is a character that can be read as ‘search’ and ‘study’, but also as ‘preparation’. I want to introduce you to a word in Japanese which has close ties to this reading of the cho character and can teach us a lot about the kind of ‘readiness’ we need to find our balance at work. Even if this word is more usually associated with martial arts practice, it applies just as well to doing business with the right attitude:

心 構え

Kokoro literally means ‘heart’, but can also mean ‘spirit’ or ‘mind’.

Gamae means ‘posture’ or ‘stance’. As a verb, it means ‘to prepare’.

The two characters combine to mean ‘state of mind’ or even a ‘stance of mind’. This is often translated into English as ‘readiness’. In martial arts, kokoro-gamae – ‘readiness of the mind’ – is linked closely to mi-gamae – readiness of the body (i.e. our physical stance, our readiness for a battle). This martial-arts-style readiness, in Japan, extends to the business world too. I think most of us would agree that if someone sits with their feet on their desk or acts like they don’t care about their work, colleagues and clients are more likely to assume that they are not up to the job.

I can’t tell you what ‘readiness’ means in every job – it will mean something very different for a teacher than for a sales executive, for an architect than for a care worker. But treating our business lives as a ‘search for balance’ can bring stillness and kindness, energy and enthusiasm to our working lives, particularly when it comes to doing business with other people and building ‘harmonious partnerships’ with clients.

Read more about chowa and its application to the world of work and business in The Power Of Chowa.

The Power Of Chowa is due for publication on 26th September 2019 by Headline Home.

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