As we are all aware, the last months have put great strain on many of us: students, teachers and administrators alike, in coping with the challenges of COVID-19 and new demands within the professional and personal arenas. In this time of greater stress it is even more important than usual to reach out to your fellow students/colleagues for support and camaraderie.
As many of you who have been to the Doctoral workshop know I often take time to discuss the importance of making contact with fellow students and finding “Study Buddies”. That is one of the primary aspects/benefits of the Doctoral workshops. These buddies are indispensable for your success, as the program is long and there will be times that you will need to lean on each other and times when you will allow others to lean on you. This is one of those times. This “give and take” (yin and yang) between fellow participants is an integral learning aspect of the program. No one is an island in this life, especially in lockdown.
If you are naturally an extroverted person than you may have to take the time to limit your efforts and ensure that your own energy levels are maintained. Too much energy going out can be a dangerous thing and we must take the time to bring energy back-in. In Japanese martial arts this is called Kaki-Jutsu: finding the balance between external and internal energy flow. Go-ho (male, energy out) refers to the hard form while Ju-ho (female, energy-in) refers to the soft form, as in the well-known word, “Judo”, the gentle-way. Many of us are used to employing the Go-ho form in our day-to-day endeavors constantly expending energy and emptying our reserves often until we are completely depleted and damage is done, sometimes irreversible damage, i.e.: burn-out. We must meditate on Ju-ho, the soft way, the female, the wellness aspect and on how to bring energy back in to our personal system so that we can recharge and recalibrate and maintain balance. This is an important aspect of the Doctoral program that each candidate must learn. It is essential.
The Chinese system/philosophy of Taoism reminds us clearly and plainly of the importance of recognizing and being in tune with the natural flow of energy. We are wise to follow its lessons and recognize the flow of energy within us and around us during this time. Sitting quietly and meditating, or practicing Yoga, is also an excellent way to listen to yourself and make sure that you maintain your center during this time of increased stress. The word Yoga means “union” and it reminds us that we must strive for union between our inner selves (emotions, spirit, psychology), the physical realm (our bodies) and the energy of the universe (the environment/cosmos). In Japanese this is expressed as “Doko Ji Gyo Sei Ki” or “the Spiritual Development of Individuality Through Mind and Body”. The three aspects of spirit, mind and body coming together to create a whole person view. We should all keep this important lesson in mind and try to reflect on its importance in times of stress ensuring that we are not neglecting a primary aspect of our selves.
If you are naturally an introverted person than you may find it doubly difficult while experiencing lock-down and isolation to reach out to others. Nonetheless, you must try your best to do so and remind yourself that you are not isolated or alone but part of a self-reinforcing system of colleagues. For all of us, we must exercise greater self-awareness and think both of what we as individuals need and what our fellow colleagues might need. This is a time for everyone to exercise appreciation, patience, understanding and empathy towards others. In Japanese this is called Kansha. Take the initiative to reach out in a caring and thoughtful manner to appreciate each other as gifts. As I always say the new person you support or get support from may become one of your best friends for the rest of your life. And who would want to miss such a great opportunity. One should remember that precious gifts can be found in the oddest of places and times. That is the mystery of life. Maintain an open attitude, express gratitude and appreciation for what we (collectively) have and support and encourage one another to our better selves. That is how a true Doctor of Philosophy candidate or Professor thinks and acts.
The difference between a person that is elevated and one that is not is that during times of crisis the non-elevated person falls into acts and thoughts of the baser emotions and becomes self-centered worried about what they have for their own survival to the exclusion of others. We see this today on the television and in media reports showing individuals fighting over grocery items. The elevated person in turn exercises his or her higher functions and shows people the better side of our human nature. They reach out, support, share and give to others in need as much as possible. This is what we must strive for as Doctoral Candidates. Again, this is just as much of your training as a doctoral candidate than any lesson in a text book. This is what becoming a Professor really means. In Japanese this is called “Bun Bu Ryo Do”, or theory and practice together. Otherwise said, it is important to learn your academic lessons but it is even more important to put the lessons in to practice. Moreover, it isn’t the domain specific knowledge gained in the program that is important during these times. Domain knowledge is a small aspect of true knowledge or wisdom. The wisdom gained through a Doctoral program relates to the development of your character, your new and enlightened outlook and your sense of unity, community and sharing with your fellow citizens that makes you a true Doctor. This is the critical lesson of a true doctoral program and of the saying Bun Bu Ryo Do.
I hope that over the next weeks you reach out to others. You recognize your inner nature and the balance you need to maintain, you strive to appreciate, support and encourage your fellow colleagues and that you put your wisdom into practice. There has never been a more crucial time in our lives than now for us to be thinking in this manner.
Dr. Henderson holds the position of Dean of the School and is responsible for the academic programs. Dr. Henderson holds a D.Phil. in Business Research from Monarch Business School, a Doctor of Political Economy from SMC University, a Doctorandus (Drs.) and MBA from Nijenrode Unversiteit in The Netherlands. He also holds a Bachelor of Commerce with distinction from McGill University in Montreal. He is a chartered member of the Canadian Institute of Management, a member of The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in the United Kingdom and a member of ACUNS-Academic Council of the United Nations System. Dr. Henderson returned to the academic field after a 20 year professional career in real estate development having held Vice-President and managerial positions at: Bentall Capital, Brookfield Properties, Kolter Properties and KPMG Canada LLP. Dr. Henderson also holds the title of Kyoshi, 7th dan, in Shorinjiryu Karatedo awarded in Okinawa, July 2019.