Learning Self-Awareness As An Entrepreneur

How does channelling your Ki improve your abilities as a business leader?

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How does channelling your Ki improve your abilities as a business leader?


Learning Self-Awareness As An Entrepreneur

How does channelling your Ki improve your abilities as a business leader?

Share this article

Several years ago, I followed the common business advice of the day to “pursue your passion.” I left a very safe, secure, and well-paying job in corporate America to start a business doing something I was truly passionate about and very good at doing.

That’s the American dream, right? Find something you’re truly passionate about, pursue it obsessively, and become wildly successful and wealthy, right?

All you have to do is work harder and longer than anyone else. Be smarter and stronger than everyone. Sacrifice everything to achieve your dream. And that is what I did. And I promptly started working longer and harder—and producing more mediocre results than I had ever produced before that led nowhere.

It was a horrible experience. From the outside, I appeared successful—but in reality, I was successfully miserable. Where did I go wrong?

I wasn’t good at delegating. I didn’t play well with others. I was afraid to let go. I cut myself off from the world, built a wall of to-do lists, and tried to use brute force to get through all the tasks necessary to run a new business. My biggest strength—my indomitable work ethic—had become a huge, crippling weakness.

I had to remember to practice what I preach. I had to remember the elegant principles I’ve spent my life studying. Once I started applying the principles of aikido to my business life—using ki as the game-changer, as a multiplier—the difference was almost instantaneous.

I became better at hiring and training staff, learned to delegate efficiently, and learned to let go to achieve more. I worked on not letting my ego get in the way of my success. And it worked.

I’ve seen a lot of other entrepreneurs struggle with the same kinds of problems. They are killing themselves, working as hard as they possibly can, but they’re not setting themselves up for success. They’re setting themselves up to be successfully miserable.

Wall Street

Wall Street in New York typifies the work hard, play hard work ethic

For example, I’ve seen a lot of entrepreneurs try to get a business off the ground while maintaining a “day job” that pays the bills, or even try to run two businesses at the same time—one that makes steady money and one that’s more of a passion project.

Trying to split your energy—your ki—between two projects is a way to set yourself up to fail. You won’t be fully committed to either project.

Of course, you have to be financially responsible, but there comes a point when you have to commit and find ways to build support structures and channel your ki in a way that sets you up to truly succeed.


Ki is the life force that drives everything you do. Strength alone is never enough, it can actually make you weak. Aikido teaches us that the key to success is to channel your strength into productive directions through the proper forms and systems of support.

On one of my recent trips to Japan, I was viscerally reminded of the way aikido teaches that strength alone is not enough to win when I worked out with my aikido master. I’m more than 20 years younger than him—stronger, faster, bigger.

If we were arm wrestling, I would definitely win. But in our aikido bout, when I grabbed him, it was like trying to grab water—he flowed, relaxed, and moved effortlessly.

Without his strength holding him back, he performed his aikido technique perfectly and tossed me about like a rag-doll. I was using too much strength, force, and effort, while my aikido teacher was channeling his energy through the proper forms—and he was far more successful as a result.

The more strength I used, the more tired I became. The more effort I exerted, the less successful I was. Does this sound familiar? Have you ever run into a situation, at work or at home, where the harder you try, the worse you do?


Aikido teaches you to channel energy effectively

Sustainable success requires a huge sacrifice but not the sacrifice you might think. It’s not about simply trying harder, applying more force to the problem, and pushing through on ki alone.

Success requires the sacrifice of kicking our fears and ego to the curb to disrupt those weaknesses that are masquerading as strengths. And how do you get those fears and ego under control? Easy.

You need inspiring support structures sufficient to ensure your success. You need to channel your ki in the most productive direction. You cannot succeed alone.

Let me repeat that: You cannot succeed alone.


There are two types of support structures—systems and people. Tony Robbins’s mentor, Jim Rohn, was fond of saying, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Who are the five people you spend the most time with? And how can they help you overcome your fears, balance your ego, and help you see where your strengths are actually holding you back?

If these five people can’t help you see yourself more clearly, you need to find the right people who will reflect your ki back to you. That doesn’t necessarily mean cutting people out of your life, but it may mean reorganizing the way you spend your time in order to better reflect your true priorities.

Aside from people, what systems do you have in place to help you ensure you are able to clearly see where your strengths are holding you back, where you’re trying to push through on ki alone? There are many types of systems.

For example, your office is a system. If you don’t like the environment of your office—the lighting, location, or layout—you are going to exert more effort to produce the same results. You may need to reorganize the system of your office to direct and support your ki in the most productive directions possible.

Technology is also a system—do you use technology, or does it use you? Are you constantly distracted by looking at your phone for that next ping? If so, again, your fear and ego are forcing you to work harder, with more effort, producing less satisfying results—all because your system is off kilter.

If this sounds familiar, consider deleting e-mail and social media apps from your phone to cut down on distractions and create a system that channels your ki in a better direction.


When you have the proper support system, life feels easy, even if you’re facing enormous challenges. You get into a state of flow where ki is flowing through you in perfect harmony instead of being blocked or misdirected.

Instead of watching the clock, waiting for the end of the workday, you’ll find you check the time and realize that hours have passed without your even noticing.

And because your energy and your work are aligned, you’ll find that you draw people to you more effortlessly than ever. People will sense the energy crackling through you, and they’ll want to join your mission.

This is an edited extract from The Mushin Way to Peak Performance: The Path to Productivity, Balance, and Success by Michael Veltri (Wiley, April 2017)

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Learning Self-Awareness As An Entrepreneur

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