Leadership catch: Adjustment and listening
Imagine walking through the woods. You carefully move and step slowly on the uneven ground where even the exposed tree roots are all covered by leaves. We adapt to environment. Although trees might seem static and unmovable they are still flexible and adaptive. They adjust to the surrounding environment and therefore become even more stable. They do not consume extra energy to rise straight up. It is natural for them to adapt to the floor declination when they grow.
We all have to adjust to our environment, or in martial arts to opponent, and to the mistakes you make during the fight. You can do this only by being flexible. In everyday life there is an abundance of events and issues that require our adaptation. But are we able to adapt quickly? How do we know what to do? When someone trips and is just about to fall, his brain starts to function at high speed. When we are very young or very drunk, we just let it go and fall down. Kids roll with it or just fall loosely, and because of this reaction, they are not severely injured most of the time. What about the rest of us? Our first reaction is violent; we start to gesticulate wildly with our hands. We start to contradict the obvious that happens all the same. Most of the time, instead of bending our knees, we stop our fall with our arms and quite a lot of times break our wrists. We forget how to fall and do not know how to adjust to this event that has happened to us many times before in our lives. We react in panic.
Therefore again back to martial arts, you should be alike the moving waters, which are full of life and health; only in still waters is stagnation and death. But then again, if you drive yourself too much, this does not produce fruit. If you try to rush into things, this does not lead anywhere. When men are pushed too far, they are bound to brood and seek revenge without knowing why. Here we have to understand the play of the balance needed to adjust. Balance doesn't involve only the real physical world, but it also involves our internal mental world. Ordinarily there is a balance between our emotional and rational minds, with the emotional feeding into and informing the operations of the rational mind, and the rational mind referring and sometimes vetoing the input of our emotions. Still, the emotional and rational minds are semi-independent faculties, each reflecting the operation of distinct, but interconnected circuitry in the brain (Daniel Goleman). Stability used incorrectly drives one to rigorously defend one’s stances. We live in a changing world, and being stable means being adaptable. Only people who have lost their adaptability naturally resist change.
Observing even further our stability and adjustment we come to the notion of being still, one needs to adjust his/hers breathe. Our bodies are used to adjusting and adapting all the time. If we need more oxygen due to physical effort, more blood is pumped to reach the oxygen that comes from deep breathing. When we move, we adapt to our surroundings and the instability caused by our actions or from the external environment. A Chinese proverb says ‘The grass abates in the direction from which the wind blows!’ During a fight, an individual has to keep adjusting to the surroundings and his opponent.
Back to business environment and leadership – if you are not internally stable then you cannot adapt to changing environment and events. To do this you have to listen to and be flexible to adapt to. This is how great martial arts masters and leaders perform their “fight” and control others.