Levi Browde: From Ancient China to Wall Street

After working on Wall Street for several years, I joined a start-up firm in 1997. Two years later we completed development of a software system that raised the bar in the enterprise project management arena. As we had hoped, the industry leader sat up, took notice, and by the spring of 1999 set out to acquire us.

One afternoon that spring while I was preparing for one of several reviews by the acquiring company, Kevin Wu, a technical lead and longtime friend, placed a book on my desk and said, “You should check this out.” The book was Zhuan Falun, the main book of Falun Gong.

Kevin, I later learned, was introduced to Falun Gong by his mother during a trip to China. A number of us in the office noticed changes in him after that trip: his focus and insight during meetings seemed more acute; he was more proactive in mentoring others on technical topics; and most of all, he was smiling more.

Soon, three others in the office also took an interest in Falun Gong, and together we started to do the exercises near our office before work.

Before long I noticed two interesting changes: first, spells of tiredness, occasional mood swings and even minor ailments such as headaches grew fewer and fewer. Secondly, certain negative character traits, such as anger, fear, self-centered pursuits, etc., seemed to have less of a hold on me, allowing my more noble side to emerge at home and at work.

I could tell the others in the office were experiencing similar benefits.

During design and review sessions, we could more easily set aside personal differences and focus on ensuring effective software design. For example, rather than each of us pushing hard to drive the design with our own individual ideas, we carefully assessed each others’ input and quickly identified strengths from each idea that led to a more bullet-proof solution. Our collaboration thus became more streamlined and our teamwork strengthened. This had a ripple effect in the office as the process of meeting deadlines and requirements grew more efficient, and the exchange of ideas more dynamic and productive.

We all knew from our training as project managers that interpersonal things are a top reason projects run over budget, over schedule, or just outright fail – particularly in the IT industry.

Yet, as we continued with Falun Gong striving to nurture in ourselves truth, compassion, and tolerance, we found our work environment improving, virtually in step with the benefits we as individuals were experiencing. The office politics and conflicts that all-too-often plague project teams – especially those working under tight and highly visible deadlines – receded as a more energized and efficient work environment emerged.

Earlier this year, I found myself back on Wall Street when I accepted an offer to join a small project and financial management firm. We’re now building a large-scale financial management system. We have a lot of research to do and our window of opportunity for time-to-market is tight.

Still, practicing Falun Gong for five years has empowered me to tackle greater and greater challenges. At work, that’s meant handling tightening deadlines and expanding requirements with poise. And on the homefront, being the best husband and father I can be.

Although ancient in origin, Falun Gong has proved for me highly applicable in the fast-paced modern world, unlocking the very best of the human spirit.