Fighting has negative connotations but it is really about survival. On the streets, serious fights end quickly, in seconds. Trained fighters and martial artists say that to fight well, you must concern yourself with what is in your control and be in the present. In the present, you can take opportunities as they come and defensive action as you need to. Yes, a high level aggression is also needed.
They will tell you that in a fight, once you start worrying about what your opponent will do, you get hurt. Your focus shifts to anticipation and you begin to be led by the opponent, fighting your opponent’s fight. Your focus must therefore be on what you are doing with your strengths and abilities, in the moment. Fight your fight and let the opponent worry about theirs.
As Steven Covey would say, be in your circle of control. Do not dwell in your circle of concern, where you have neither control nor influence. This has application to daily life, individual achievement and competition between organisations.
I listened to Graham Keen’s audio cd “95@95” in the car over the weekend and whilst I did not agree with all its contents, it brought together many things I know. Isn’t it great when writers are able to make you wonder “how come I did not realise this myself?” A strong point for me was his conclusion that if you want to make changes in your life, you must look at the messages you give yourself of who you are (your self-concept). Change these messages and your behaviour will begin to change to suit your new messages.
The memorable anecdote from the tape was how John D Rockefeller, preparing to bawl out an executive at Standard Oil who had made a very costly error, first made an exhaustive list of the man’s top qualities and achievements in the company. We are taught to sandwich negative feedback between positive statements. Also to tackle the behaviour, not the person. What I learnt from Rockefeller is how to do this in practice: really look to see what good there is in the person and appreciate her/him. This puts their behaviour and result into perspective.
The thing is to do this, you must already be of the mindset that there is some good there in the first place.
“We tend to build an allegiance either to relationships or to issues. We become primarily concerned about other people, their feelings, and the relationship, or we become focussed on rules, quotas, agendas, tasks and results”—The Word for today
I immediately liked this view but then considering whether it fits the business environment and the need to deliver results, I questioned it. Can you not deliver results without maintaining relationships with those who would deliver them? Can you deliver good results if you are primarily concerned about the relationships and not those results, afterall that is the primary reason for employing the people (human resource)? Surely the reason for maintaining relationships is for the results. For most people, the knowledge that they are valued for the results they deliver would be enough for them to give their best. I agree that in a learning environment and in a nurturing relationship, the relationship however is the overiding factor. The results are not as urgent and a good relationship would build the individual up to deliver results in the medium term. So, I guess it depends…
I mean, just being, rather than the human entity. Mindfulness may be the familiar term used in the mainstream and in Buddhism. This is my take on a concept I find very helpful.
How many of us know how to be? Just be, in the present, not in the past or the future. I find it a challenge with thoughts always whizzing through my mind and with a natural tendency to reflect on events, the past. I am determined to conquer being and I can see some progress. I now recognise many of the times when I am not being in the present. As Karen Sothers says, it takes a lifetime of practice and even then…
My route to this discovery came when I asked for help to improve my presence when I network. She told me a story about a successful networker who just pays attention to anyone she is talking to. It confirmed to me that ‘presence’ is more than being the dominant figure in the environment or the life of the party. Presence comes with being present in the moment, taking full advantage it and responding in real time to the opportunities it provides. Neither dwelling on events or parts of the conversation that preceded the moment nor anticipating the direction of the conversation and seeking an opening to get a word in.
My teacher, Leah said being present is a ‘present’ to be cherished and my coach, Duncan who taught me not to fight distraction but acknowledge its presence but let it go immediately. I am learning to smell the air in a room, sense the muscles in my shoulders or move my toes to remind me of just being. What I have discovered is the peace that comes with being present, listening better, connecting better with people. I am at my best when I am just being.
When a rugby ball is lobbed or a football is kicked in a pass, the player does not aim for the current position of the team mate but for their future position, where they would be when the ball gets to them. Early men who were no good at this forward thinking must have been rubbish hunters and farmers.
Many of us drivers respond to the driver directly in front of us. We slow down or stop when we see the brake lights in front of us light up. Advanced driving shows how much easier it is though when our primary attention is on the 2 or 3 cars in front of us. We often slow down or stop at the same time as the car directly in front of us. Our awareness of our surroundings is improved and we are more flexible in our responses, making it easier to flow with the environment. This for me is what strategic thinking is about. Seeing around the corner. What if? What would I do? What is the best that could happen? What is the worst? Am I prepared for both? For some it is natural but some others have to learn it or adopt simple systems to effect it. The result is increased success in being proactive and in responding to circumstances around us.