Much is said about leadership and leaders, and about the value of being a good follower or student.
In martial arts, much attention is paid to getting out of the way.
This concept has value in business as well as everyday life.
Excerpted from the book on conscious entrepreneurship and business management, Business Black Belt
“And when we think we lead, we are most led.”
~ Lord Byron, poet
I was reading an article in Fortune magazine and saw a picture of Ted Turner in his office. In about three places he had a plaque that read “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” This chapter is not about leading or following, but about getting out of the way.
Think of driving on the highway. You see some guy who is in a hurry and you’re not. Get out of his way. Who knows why he is in such a hurry? He may have a reason or maybe he’s a jerk—best not to judge since you don’t really know. When I’m in a hurry myself, I want non-contributing people to just get out of the way. Let me get done what I need to get done. If you’re living by the rule of “What goes around, comes around” and people are still slowing you down, you’d do well to take a second look at how you might be slowing others down.
You’re probably going too fast and if you continue, you’ll get into an accident and die, perhaps taking a couple of other people with you. If you’re in a hurry to drive somewhere and all the lanes are crowded with slowpokes and you’re stuck, go with the flow. Chances are everybody is slowing you down for a reason. Whenever I’m in traffic and all lanes are slowing me down, I think, “There must be a cop around here somewhere.” And nine times out of ten, sure enough, these slow drivers I was pissed-off at have just saved me from a speeding ticket.
It’s important for all of us to respect those who are in a hurry. It’s a necessity of consciousness even if you’re not focusing or in a hurry, but you recognize those who are. Get out of their way, knowing that it’ll come back to you sometime in the future. I believe you can consciously generate positive karma. You can build the karma flowing in your direction so when you want to go, everybody will be out of your way.
I see it happen on the road.
I see a guy come zipping up behind me flashing his lights. I think, “Boy, that guy must be in a hurry to go to the airport.” I’m just going out to the store, so I get out of his way rather than be a jerk and impose my so-called right to hog the lane. I know there are times when I need to get somewhere in a hurry and want other people to get out of my way and let me through. It never ceases to amaze me how well this works and I remember to practice this principle.
In business, someone may want my assistance or permission for something they want. It may not be strategically relevant to me at the time, but I know it’s important to them so I give it to them. I know that sometimes I’m going to need some strategic assistance, that it may not help someone else’s business interests, but at least they’ll help me by getting out of my way. The opportunity for this seems to happen in every management meeting. Somebody wants to do something—I say, “OK.” It’s part of letting go—what every entrepreneur is asked to do to allow his or her staff to contribute to build the business. I’m not talking about making a big effort. It’s just recognizing that someone else is in a hurry or on a mission. I don’t need to get involved in everything.
I could make a product that another company sells because it seems like it would go with my business. But I’m not going to do that just because I’m envious that they have a product and I don’t. For example, I could make accounting software. I know my customers are business owners and would probably buy it from me since they buy other software from me. But I’m not going to gum up the market with yet another accounting product to confuse customers. I’m not going to make accounting companies have to compete with me, unless I know I could really make a difference and sell something much better to my customers. Why should I screw up the market for others just to be there?
In martial arts, getting out of someone’s way is a useful tactic. If somebody big is coming at you head-on, step aside, and they’ll go right by. There is an art to getting out of the way. The idea is to do it with minimum effort and motion—even guide them past you. You don’t want to get run over. Nature respects this art.
Business Black Belt Notes
- When someone is in a hurry, get out of their way. Think of it as a karmic investment.
- If “things” are slowing you down, there must be a good reason—perhaps you’re going in the wrong direction and need to look around, so take it easy.
- If you want others to get into your market and injure your sales, do the same to them.
- Choose your engagements carefully. Many things you can let go by.