My grandpa passed away recently, peacefully and quietly he left. Yet, beneath all that quiet, was a giant who made a lasting impression in my life. Let me ask you first, who is a true leader to you, and what standards do you hold yourself to as a leader?
One of the hallmarks of leadership is to have immersive experiences that you can relate to personally, and then nuancing them to help develop your own people working with you. However, short of being hands-on on every single task, what are some of the options for gaining such experiences, especially for an emerging leader, a leader in training, or even a leader already entrenched in the field but placed in even more challenging environments?
It is often both sad and laughable when I read in the media about restructuring of ailing companies, that the one and only strategy these “leaders” execute, is to fire people and cut costs.
Greg McKeown in his book “The Disciplined Pursuit of Less“, described that there are 2 kinds of people, essentialists, and nonessentialists. Terminologies aside, the notion that some people are distill their thoughts and actions down with focus and discipline, while most others drown in their own chaotic and undisciplined thoughts and actions, is the age-old and persistent reality we face. This is especially true today where many people delusionally believe they can “multitask” in the age of smart devices.
A Karate sensei told the class, that one of his students, was not up to it.
The young man, although a black belt, was too impatient, too bent on winning, lacks the right motivation to learn, and that he lacked “uke” – the ability to “receive”.
In life, it is the same.
Those hell bent on winning, will end up miserable and ultimately defeated. Just as the true spirit of Karate is not to attack or to kill, but to defend.
The Karate-ka must be willing to receive gratefully and graciously. He must have discipline, before his discipline transforms into perfection. It is the same as Orthodoxy, seeking to defeat one’s own inner enemies, rather than to perceive everyone out there as an enemy. It is to defeat one’s own limitations, to rise above them. It is to defeat one’s own ego. This disciplined journey bears no enemies in others, and seeks only to defeat one’s own inner demons.
If you examine the word 型 (kata), which is the choreographed movements of Karate, it is made of two distinct Chinese characters, 刑 (punishment, or regulation), and 土 (soil/earth, or peasant).
Therefore, to perfect one’s kata in Karate, the Karate-ka must be humble and respectful, like the soil or a peasant, and have repeatable and centered discipline.
For a leader of an organization, if he is the black belt Karate-ka leading his people forward, he must find within him, no hatred, no malice, and he must perfect his strategy just as he would his “kata”, with discipline and humility. Therein lies perfection.