Seven Steps to Inner Power
The Book Brigade talks to Silicon Valley CEO Tae Yun Kim.
Posted May 17, 2018
What inspired you to become a martial arts practitioner, then a grandmaster?
One early morning at the age of seven, after the Korean War, I was awakened by loud shouts. I carefully slid open my rice paper window and peeked outside to see my eight uncles swirling their arms and legs in the morning mist. Those were the most beautiful and graceful movements I had ever seen. What I saw awakened a feeling deep inside me. At that moment, I decided this was what I would do with my life: train in and teach the martial arts. That became my one burning desire.
What were some of the biggest hurdles as a woman?
My first big hurdle was that in my country, the first-born child (which I was) was supposed to be a boy. Imagine being born into this world and being immediately labeled a curse and bad luck by my family and the entire village. I had to endure beatings by my father in his drunken rages and by my mother, who blamed me for all her problems.
In addition, in South Korea at that time, girls were forbidden to train in the martial arts. For 5,000 years, tradition dictated that a girl must learn to cook and sew, get married to a man of her family’s choosing, have twelve sons, and be a dutiful mother and wife. That was fine for everyone else, but not for me.
How did your training in martial arts itself help you in your achievement quest?
Most people think martial arts is only about kicking and punching, but it is much deeper than that. Martial arts is learning about the rhythm of life, uncovering your true self, and developing your full potential. You learn how to embrace your weaknesses as well as your strengths and how to turn your weaknesses into strengths.
My teacher, a Buddhist monk, was a ki (internal energy) master. He taught me how to control my breathing and my emotions, how to have laser-beam focus, and much more. I use these techniques daily to help me reach my goals and I share them in my book.
How do you define inner power?
Inner power is the quiet force within you that knows when to act and when to move and gives you the strength to do so.
Have you heard of the story of the mother who lifted a car with her bare hands to free her son trapped underneath? In that moment of life or death, she tapped into her inner power. A person might feel too exhausted to move or walk anymore, but if someone yells fire! he somehow finds the energy to run.
This inner power is something we all have, but we need to learn how to tap into it in creative and effective ways in our daily life.
You rose from the humblest of beginnings to achieve professional power. What did you learn about resilience?
First, without God, I would never be here today. How else could a tiny girl from a poor village in Korea who was labeled a curse and bad luck grow up to become a high-tech CEO, author, motivational speaker, and more?
Achieving my goals didn’t come instantly. Step by step, I had to create the conditions that would allow me to give birth to my dreams.
In order to break out of the box everyone was trying to keep me trapped in, I had to choose every single day not to let challenging situations overpower me.
My first job when I came to the U.S. was cleaning toilets at a hotel. People called me all sorts of terrible names. I had to continually affirm: “They are not my God. I know who I am and what I am. I know the direction I am headed in.”
Through all these challenges, I learned a key lesson: Although we may feel as if the obstacles we face are insurmountable, that’s not true. We must hold on to our dreams and keep doing our part because the next big breakthrough is waiting to enter our lives at just the right moment.
As an advocate for women’s power, what do you think women most need to achieve power?
To achieve power, women need total and absolute honesty. When women can be honest and accept their weaknesses as well as their strengths, doors of opportunity and freedom will open for them. Whenever you identify and confront a weakness, you always gain an increment of power because you are taking the first step to rise above it.
Honesty also means being yourself, not what someone else expects you to be. Tapping into your inner power to stay true to your real self is at the root of what I teach: You are one of a kind. A daisy never asks itself, “Why aren’t I a rose?” Each part of creation, including you, has its own beauty and its own strength.
What is the single most important thing to know about each of the seven steps to inner power?
The seven steps to inner power are bringing together your body and mind as one so that your thoughts and actions are aligned in pursuit of your goals; discovering the truth about yourself; attaining purity of body, mind, and spirit so you can express your true nature; learning to love yourself; maintaining loyalty to your goals and life purpose; learning to sacrifice weaknesses and unnecessary activities and attachments so you can achieve your goals; and seeking patience in everything you do.
The most important thing to know about the seven steps is that you can’t do one step without the others if you really want to break through to awesome. All the steps work together to bring wholeness to your being.
Not all the barriers people face come from without. What inner limitations do people, and perhaps especially women, put on themselves?
Many of us have an inner dialogue that says, “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t deserve it” or “I don’t have it in me.” This usually comes from years of listening to other people’s opinions of us—overcritical parents, jealous coworkers, competitive siblings, and others.
When we buy into that misinformation, we become our own worst enemies. We don’t treat ourselves very well. If someone else treated you with hatred, criticism, or disrespect, you wouldn’t stand for it. So what makes it all right for you to treat yourself that way?
Stop terrorizing yourself! It’s time to change your inner dialogue and get to know and listen to your Silent Master (your real, original self and inner voice), who says that you have all the power you need to fulfill your dreams.
We live in a culture where children are raised to be afraid of making a mistake. Do you think this is a wise course?
Absolutely not! When you make a mistake, it means you are doing something. Isn’t that wonderful? If you don’t do anything, you won’t make mistakes; but you also won’t get results and you’ll go nowhere.
I don’t look at mistakes as negative. I acknowledge that my result wasn’t what I wanted, so I must change, study more, and be more creative. I teach my students to learn from mistakes. As a matter of fact, I say: Make a fantastic mistake!
How many mistakes did Alexander Graham Bell make when inventing the telephone? How many mistakes did engineers make while developing the cell phone? Who cares? The object is to succeed, not to count your mistakes. That’s why my motto is “He Can Do, She Can Do, Why Not Me!”
Who would most benefit from reading your book?
I share what I learned from ancient martial arts tradition along with decades of my own real-world experience helping people stay on target, fulfill their dreams and goals, and learn how to keep their power turned on—no matter what challenges they are facing.
If you had one piece of advice, what would it be and for whom?
This is for anyone who has a vision, dream, or goal (don’t confuse dreams and goals with daydreams and fantasies): There is only one you. Look at your thumbprint. It is unique.
So remember, this is your life! No one can eat for you, sleep for you, or go wee wee for you. If you don’t like what you see, you can decide right now to change the picture of your life. You are in control of what you do with your creative energy in this moment.
One way to do take control is with a tool I call future memory. A memory is when you remember exact details of past events, such as your first kiss or wedding day, because you experienced those events intensely. A future memory is a memory of something that will happen in the future. You vividly see and experience your goal as clearly as if it had already come to pass. When you direct your mind and your actions in that way, you can break through to awesome and achieve whatever you want.
About THE AUTHOR SPEAKS: Selected authors, in their own words, reveal the story behind the story. Authors are featured thanks to promotional placement by their publishing houses.
To purchase this book, visit: