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Business lessons from the dojo #2

Lifelong learning, be open and willing.

Opportunities for growth in performance, through teaching and in conflict (combat)

“I never lose; I only win or I learn” Anon

There are many Kata (detailed choreographed patterns of combat movements practiced and performed either solo or in pairs) in our style and other styles that have a ‘saying’ attached or a quiet understanding about them that you will never perfect them, you will always be learning at another level, sometimes sensei will say “It takes your whole life to perfect this Kata”

It is about being and becoming your ‘best self’

You may find this idea or belief daunting, especially as our body gets older, stiffer, and less resilient to injury and fatigue. I have begun to understand this as more of a concept than a fact, it is more about mind-set and attitude, which I spoke about in my last blog, than it is about the technical facts.

If we accept the belief that perfection is a ‘lifelong’ pursuit then what we are open to is growth and learning. We are teachable, we come to the training session understanding that we will learn something new about ourselves that day, sometimes the learning is painful and requires discomfort, other times is a liberating and more like a breakthrough we have been working on getting for a while.

This acceptance serves our practice best when we are open to correction, coaching and change.

Business is the same, sometimes this is referred to as a growth mind set or weather someone is ‘teachable’ or ‘coachable’ or not.

I believe if we are always open to learning and growth ourselves then our businesses can’t help but grow, and like training in martial arts, some of this growth is challenging, uncomfortable and a little painful.

In martial arts as in business there are many components that lead to success, here are some of the ways I have found opportunities to grow:

  1. Performance of Kata, technically you can be on the button, get every move right, directions, hand positions, leg positions, even timing, but the head instructor may say your energy was low or poor, therefore leaving your performance lacking.

In business this could be a sales call or presentation that your next client was coming from, you could get the technicalities right, you could nail the details, the product or service knowledge was sound and on the button, but if the engagement or energy isn’t’ right you can lose the sale.

This can also come in the form customer or client feedback, all feedback is good! Even if it is an unhappy customer or worse, a complaint. Feedback gives us the opportunity to learn, change and grow.

  1. Teaching other students in the dojo can provide BIG learning opportunities, because everyone learns differently, there are different ages and fitness levels, so many factors come into play when we are trying to pass on knowledge and experience. We have to learn to adapt and re frame where needed to improve understanding. There is also an unwritten rule in martial arts, your students’ progress is a reflection of your ability to teach. I also find that I learn more about my own practice when I have to teach it, because I have to answer questions and remember the details on how to get from one point to the next, sometimes after many years of practice things become automatic and it is good to go back and break it down for someone else to learn.

Many businesses have staff, employees or contractors, where they are required to pass on information, knowledge and training. Then there are businesses like mine, where I spend 80% of my team coaching, teaching and training others in skills around running businesses. The same challenges and rules apply here, different ‘filters’ create different beliefs and experiences create understandings. I can have a room with 12 business owners in it, and everyone in that room has a different style of learning, different abilities, strengths etc… My challenge is to always be adaptable and open to learning various ways of saying the same thing, to facilitate the change they are looking for.

  1. Sparring (fighting) for points, is a minefield of learning opportunities, learning a about your strengths and how to maximise those, how to out-think your opponent, thinking on your feet, expecting the unexpected, being in the moment (Focus), being aware of your surroundings, adaptable. Taking a HIT, you have two choices to call the fight and get out or choose to regroup, re focus and learn how to move quicker, block faster. I am short and small, I have learned that can be in my favor, speed will win over strength 90% of the time, so my practice has always been about getting faster, and smarter, this is still a work in progress always, but as long as I stay open to learning in this arena I will improve and get better.

The business parallel to this is conflict, in a growing business it is inevitable, if you are not experiencing it you probably are not growing much. Hiring staff and contractors provide incredible opportunities to grow in this area, you are in the best place to practice some of those things mentioned above, learning about maximising your strengths, expecting the unexpected, as in karate sparring, with staff and contractors you have the involvement of another human being who you can’t control or sometimes predict their actions or responses, so staying alert, being adaptable, and learning to improve every time.

Some business owners avoid conflict the like plague, if you avoid something that makes you uncomfortable, for whatever reason, you will remain uncomfortable with it.

It is not just as a manager of people you will find opportunities for growth here, also with client relationships, networking, anything that involves communicating and relating to others.

It is entirely possible to have a conflict situation and to come out at the end still in good relationship with that person or group, IF it is handled well.

Sparring is the same, you can have a really good ‘fight’ with an opponent in a controlled environment and even if there is a winner, both can come out feeling that it was a good match, fair, well controlled and well managed.

Closing Tips:

In every situation ask yourself, “What can I learn about myself in this moment or today that will improve me for next time?”

Be open to feedback, coaching, and growth always

Here is to your growth and pursuit of your ‘best self’