Using martial arts skills to drive business success

Vision, Fluidity and speed create competitive edge

To prosper in tough markets takes an extraordinary mix of skills and insight. For me, after 30 years in business and 10 years training and teaching a Korean martial art called Choi Kwang Do (CKD), some clear parallels have emerged. Only 25 years old, CKD uses the latest understanding of how muscles, ligaments and joints can be best utilised to deliver maximum speed and power. In challenging times, this mix of skills is more relevant than ever in business.

Peripheral vision

Traditional martial arts teach students to tense muscles and put stress into the body in order to deliver power. However, its immediate effect is to alert the ‘fight or flight’ syndrome which leads to a loss of peripheral vision – in effect, ‘tunnel’ vision. CKD turns tradition on its head. We teach students ‘relaxed concentration’ to ensure all their senses are fully open. Let’s face it, if you can’t see what’s coming at you from the edge of your vision the chances are it will reach and hurt you. Consider if your company has rigid, established assumptions on how the market works, who your real competitors are and how they will react to changing conditions. If so, you’re losing peripheral vision and new players and even new initiatives by established competitors will catch you out. Look for insight from customers, sales, industry journalists and analysts, even Google Alerts. Bring together a multi-function team every 3 months just to review market dynamics. Set everyone Bloody Good Questions – who are we losing business to? Why? What are competitors doing differently? Is client behaviour changing? Stay relaxed, open minded and never stop scanning the market and you’ll pick up the new trends first.

Fluidity

CKD works through relaxed, easy, rapid movements from one technique to the next. A defensive block is followed immediately by an attacking punch or kick, the choice determined by the situation, your respective positions and the fastest way to neutralise your opponent. Take a fresh look at the processes by which customers buy from you, partners to engage with you and staff to do their jobs and meet client demands. How fluid are they? Is it easy to move from one stage to the next without frustration and tension? Ask a new customer, team member and partner to use the processes that apply to them and give you feedback. What’s easy, hard, doesn’t make sense, slows things down? How could it be simpler, quicker? Processes that are hard work lead to opportunities being lost, so time and effort spent in making it easy to work with you will build better business.

Speed

It’s easy to believe that power comes from big muscles. Not so. In CKD, power comes from speed and practise so the techniques become intuitive. Adjusting your balance and weight in the right way maximises the speed you deliver a punch or kick. More speed, more power. And if the technique is targeted through really seeing what your opponent is doing, and your body movement is fluid so it is a continuous, unbroken process then you will deliver power way above your body weight. Take the initiative – get that RFP back to the client ahead of time and you send the right messages of being very interested in their business, focused, capable. If that’s how customers perceive you, that’s a good place to be. Equally, actually using customer feedback to change and adapt your offering will achieve great results. Martial arts provide simple, clear insights. Stay relaxed and maintain peripheral vision so that you can see competitors creeping into your space early on. Identify who is winning business in your market and why. Maybe they have simpler, easier, fluid processes and don’t make customers bend to their business model. Or they ‘see’ trends first and react fast and with real focus. You will win by staying open-minded, responding quickly and making doing business with your organisation a relaxed, positive experience.