Aikido in Business
I founded an aikido association to which I belong called ‘Aikido for Daily Life’ which is very much about taking the principals of aikido off the mat and applying them in daily life, and a very significant part of my own daily life over the last 35 years has been spent in the business arena.
My study of aikido has been a huge influence in the way I conduct myself and perhaps that's not surprising when you consider the qualities that aikido seeks to develop. For example;
It develops a positive attitude to life.
It teaches us patience.
We learn to be sensitive, (to what is going on within ourselves and within others).
It helps us to fulfil our potential.
It teaches us discipline.
It teaches us to pay attention to the detail.
We learn to respect everyone else’s perspective.
It teaches us the value of commitment and hard work.
We learn to work harmoniously with others in just about the most dramatic way possible. (Being attacked with a big wooden stick is probably a much bigger problem than most of us face in our daily lives).
We learn that mostly motivation to move forward comes from within, though a little help from our friends can be helpful.
We learn that practice, if it doesn’t exactly make perfect, goes a long way towards improvement.
As a teacher,(and my view is that every student of aikido is in some way a teacher), we develop our communication skills. We need to be able to explain a principle or technique in ways that mean something to every individual on the mat.
We learn that fighting and one-upmanship ultimately get us no where.
We learn tolerance.
We discover that curiosity, or should I say an enquiring mind, brings rich rewards.
Perhaps best of all, as we grow and become more understanding of the way in which the world works we develop a strong sense of humility and empathy for others.
If that isn’t enough, most students of aikido enjoy better health than their peers and very often they look younger too. That's a long list of positives, but then that is exactly what aikido is about. I do not think that it takes a genius to see how all these traits and benefits can only help us achieve our goals in the business world or anywhere else for that matter.
The good news is that aikido is based on a few very simple, but incredibly powerful ideas. Firstly we learn that to be effective we need to be able to:
1. Be centred
2. Be positively relaxed.
3. Be grounded. Work with gravity, (think down).
4. Extend your awareness beyond yourself
The only real way to learn these ideas and their power is through the body, but once you understand them, you can employ them in all aspects of life and your chances of achieving positive results from whatever you are working on will be greatly enhanced.
Once we have gained some control of how we stand in the world, then we can begin to work on how best to work with others and again aikido offers basic principles that are mind-blowingly powerful:
1. Start with a positive mind
2. Be aware, to give yourself the best chance of dealing with whatever is happening around you.
3. Respect people’s views and actions, even if you disagree with them.
4. Place yourself in their shoes to gain the best perspective of why they act and speak as they do.
5. When you act, do so with confidence
Once again, aikido gives us a tool to appreciate the power of these ideas through the body, which re-enforces them in a way that a book or tape ever could.
I know that these ideas, if employed widely in the world, will make individuals happier and more fulfilled, businesses more successful and ultimately this will make society as a whole more productive and peaceful.
In creating the Business Dojo, my quest has been to synthesize what I have learnt on the mat into simple exercises that will let you and your body experience the power of these ideas without the necessity of having to put yourself through the rigours of martial art training. The training is innovative, simple and very effective, and will leave you in a position to develop your skills and consequently your effectiveness within your business.